I recently watched the movie "All Quiet On the Western Front" on Netflix. It was more than good, I thought it was excellent. According to Wikipedia, All Quiet on the Western Front (German: Im Westen nichts Neues, lit. 'Nothing New in the West') is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German veteran of World War I. The book describes the German soldiers' extreme physical and mental trauma during the war, and the detachment from civilian life felt by many upon returning home from the front.
The novel was first published in November and December 1928 in the German newspaper Vossische Zeitung, and in book form in late January 1929. The book and its sequel, The Road Back (1930), were among the books banned and burned in Nazi Germany. All Quiet on the Western Front sold 2.5 million copies in 22 languages in its first 18 months in print."
It made me think and think a lot. Especially when comparing the soldiers "detachment from civilian life felt by many upon returning home from the front" with my own experience. I don't want anyone to think that I'm comparing my levels of exposure to violence or trauma to the soldiers depicted in the film. Nor, do I want anyone to confuse my writing about this as any form of approval, because I don't have any.
I created a spin on the title to of this blog post to "All Quiet on the Northwestern Front", because I served the majority of my time with the Baltimore Police Department in the Northwest District. As a matter of fact, I retired from the Baltimore Police Department while serving in the Northwest District.
It was an act of violence, where a car thief tried to shoot me in the face and head with my service revolver. Fortunately we both survived and by the grace of God, and for reasons that I will never understand no one was shot. Originally I thought I had sprained my wrist in the fight. It got worse and after 3 surgeries, involving two steel plates, and a total fusion of my right wrist and portions of the hand, I was retired at only 33 years old.
Please bare with me a moment longer. I was involved in 4 shootings while assigned to the Northwest District. None of them were anywhere similar to what is portrayed in Hollywood or the news media. As a matter of fact, I never fired my gun in the first two.
However, only a few movies, usually war films come anywhere close to depicting the life and death struggle during my hand to hand fight for my gun, that wound up ending my career. As was depicted by the movie and a few others, the real struggle for me and my family was after everything got quiet, when I was retired and tried to fit back in with civilian life. We struggled for a long time.
I still don't "fit in 100%" with civilians that have never known that level of violence, but it is much better. My Wife and I enjoy our peaceful lives and don't need for everyone else to "understand". Today, I no longer struggle with the "All Quiet On The Northwestern Front".