Home > Writing > Blogs > Veterans Day with “The Christmas Piano Tree” by Jina Bacarr
Veterans Day is for healing…let’s not forget our wounded warriors who suffer not only the physical pains of war, but the mental as well.
PTSD was first talked about during the Civil War by physicians who described it asnostalgia, while others believed it was a disturbance of a soldier’s mental capabilities caused by severe trauma to the brain.
After World War II, John Huston directed a documentary called Let There Be Light, about the care of soldiers with mental disturbances suffered during wartime.
The gate is the entrance to the Mary Huber School for Girls where my heroine, Kristen Delaney, worksâ€¦sheâ€™s been feeding homeless vets with leftover food as a way of keeping her husbandâ€™s memory alive (he was killed in Afghanistan)â€“this is a very difficult Christmas Eve for her and her little girl Rachelâ€¦until this soldier shows up!!
Hereâ€™s a short scene where we first meet him. Kristen gets a funny feeling when she sees a tall man walking toward herâ€¦
“She pulled her steering wheel hard to the right to avoid colliding with the tall man bundled up in a black field jacket and khaki pants, a duffel bag strapped on his back, his broad shoulders dusted with falling snow.
“She stuck her head out of the window to give him a piece of her mind and then stopped.
â€œSomething about him made her stare at him. He had that swagger she knew so well. Military. Seeing him touched a nerve. Another homeless vet. Kristen shook her head, understanding. He was the third one this week looking for a hot meal.
“Not surprising on Christmas Eve.â€
Who is the handsome soldier? And how is he tied to Kristen’s past?
Sgt. Jared Milano is suffering from PTSD from his last mission in Afghanistan:
“His brain went into freefall and he couldnâ€™t stop it. No matter how hard he tried, how much he squeezed his mind, the memory stayed lost in a thick, suffocating fog swirling around in his head.
Dead and forgotten.
Angry, frustrated, he tried to reach out and grab it, but whatever his buddy said to him before he died remained silent and still in his mind.
When would he remember? When?”
“The Christmas Piano Tree” is the story of a pretty young war widow who re-discovers the magic of the holiday season with the help of a homeless vet and an old piano.
I’ll never forget the Christmas I spent stationed overseas in a small town in Italy. The hot chocolate and cookies I baked and gave to the soldiers who signed up for my Christmas Eve Midnight Mass tour. Off we went on that wintery night in an old military school bus…
We were a motely group of military and Special Services personnel attending the service in a medieval cathedral that was cold and damp, but filled with song and hope for a better future.
Many of those men had seen the horrors of combat and suffered from PTSD (what we called DSS–delayed-stress syndrome–back then). Their stories as they told them to me have stayed with me always…
Thank you for spending part of your Veterans Day here with me. We thank all those who have served for their courage and bravery in keeping us and our families safe. God bless you.