Every Memorial Day I try to articulate my thoughts as to what this day, out of all the days of the year means to me from a family point of view.
Yet another Memorial Day is coming on. Though, as you told me long ago, every day is a memorial day. A thought... An action... Suddenly a face forever
young, but long gone from this earth will be flashing before your eyes. Usually fond memories, but not always.
A memory of loading the ammo trays on a P47 Thunderbolt with beer stolen from a bunch of Marines down the beach... ...then having one of the pilots
fly around way, way up in the sky to make cold beer... Then the realization that all those laughing, beer drinking pilots and mechanics, and even the
Marines who you ripped off, are all gone, or will be soon.
The memory of watching civilians leap off cliffs on Saipan, then seeing the bodies floating in the water around the troopships. ...and there being
absolutely nothing you could do. Old men. Women. ...and children. The prospect of being captured by American soldiers so apparently terrifying that
death was to be preferred, even embraced... Nightmare material. How do I know this? I've heard your nightmares.
As a kid, I loved those stories you told me. About the games. Pranks. Stealing from the Marines.... Epic poker games that lasted weeks on the
You never told me about the other stuff. The blood. The pain of your wounds. The pain of others, your friends, that you could do nothing about. The
horror of watching innocents die, while you were helpless to do anything about it. Deny all you will, Dad... I've heard your nightmares.
I would do anything to remove those memories, If I could. Yet with those memories, and I'm sure many, many others, you helped raise six kids. You were
the only major male influence in my life. I could have done much, much worse.
You survived the Pacific war. You went home after a short stint in Japan. Went off to college. Then your country called again, this time to Korea.
Again, memories of empty places at the table, of young smiling faces that were, in a flash of fire, gone forever. You still see those faces though...
I've seen the pauses, and the hidden tears.
Home again, finished college. Got married, and began a family. Four daughters.
Then? Vietnam. Early in our involvement. Before it became evening news fodder, you were there. When the Viet Cong were still Viet Minh... Before the
smoke from Diem Bien Phu had gone from the skies. You loved the Vietnamese people. You were only there for a couple of years, before you were
transferred to Europe, where you and Mom added a young son to the mix. Me (I know, epic right?). Ground Zero. Just a few hundred miles away, the
rompin' stompin' Red Army awaited.
Then back to the U.S.. Minot AFB. A missile site commander for SAC. A realization that you could, under horrific circumstance, help to destroy the
world. It was here when the dreams/nightmares started to really effect you, wasn't it? PTSD's. All those young faces. Friends. Even enemies. Innocents
caught by circumstance with no where to go...
I remember the day clearly. You claim not to...but I doubt that. We were walking down the street. I was with my favorite person in the whole of my
small, small world... Daddy. A car backfired. ...and you were ducking behind a tree, because it had suddenly become a combat zone. It was then that
you realized it was time to go.
A year later, you were back in college. The Air Force a thing of the past. Or so you hoped...
Still, those faces kept/keep coming back. You did what most soldiers/sailors with those memories did... You kept on keepin' on. Raised some kids,
adding another boy sometime later...
But those faces.
But you've come to a sort of peace with them, haven't you? Now that you're coming towards the end of this mortal coil. Many more days behind, then
ahead... You'll see them, those faces, again soon. You, too, will again be young, strong, and full of life. Mom will be there, too. I'll miss you, god
how I'll miss you. But you'll be beyond the dreams, and healed. Your friends will be back with you. Your enemies will be friends, too.
I'll always be there.
Love ya, Dad. Your son.
Not sure when, or even why, our young men and women have become the enemy to all too many of us... Not just here in the U.S. But abroad as well.
These young men and women aren't the enemy. They're my dad. My uncles. My sisters. My brother. My best friend in school. They're your children. Our
They didn't put themselves in harms way. Are they willing to? Yes. 'cause that's what they signed up for. They know that.
What they didn't sign up for was to be treated as pariahs. As societal misfits. As something to be wiped off the bottoms of our shoes...
Even our most wondrous govt. can't, for the most part, be bothered with them. ...and that's our fault. Yes, our fault. We've allowed them to be
marginalized. Treated as an enemy. Someone to be watched, distrusted; an enemy in all but name.
Is it any wonder that many of them have problems?
These men and women are ours. They're us. They aren't some alien from another world. They're the kids you played baseball with. Football. Ran track
with. Went to the prom with.
Many blame them for the actions they take. In some cases? The blame is accurately placed. But then? Some will take the actions of a few and brand the
whole. That's so wrong headed as to beggar the imagination.
They didn't put themselves in the mountains. Deserts. The oceans. The skies above us. We did. We allowed them to be misused. We allowed them to become
the symbol of tyranny, of oligarchy run amok.
I loathe, beyond my capacity to articulate properly, those who blame our kids for our apathy. Our inability to say NO MORE!! I loathe people who
insist on blaming others for the problems that we could settle with hard work, and the same sort of courage, and fortitude that these kids show on a
daily basis in places so very far from where they should be.
We want these wars to end. We want our children to come home. All this and more, we want. When? When will we realize that it's up to us? These, our
children, won't until we decide it's time for that last bullet to fly.
'til we decide that it's that time, too many of our children will sleep here, instead of on the couch after a meal...
Grace to you all...
When will enough, be enough?
It's up to us now. I wonder if we'll prove worthy?
edit on 5/23/2014 by seagull because: (no reason given)
edit on 5/23/2014 by seagull because: (no reason
edit on 5/23/2014 by seagull because: (no reason given)