Well here we are again. Another Memorial Day weekend has come around, only this time you're not here for it.
Christmas Day 2015 you answered another muster call, this one the final one. I miss you so much... For some reason it felt right to write this
today, though if I'd had any idea just how hard it was going to be...I might have thought twice.
I know Memorial Day was a special day for you, as it is for so many others still living. Faces of young people who never got to grow old, never got
to hold their first born child, watch a daughter marry the love of her life, or any of the other events that make up a life--because theirs were cut
short by war.
I never told you this, never had the courage...
But I heard you reliving those moments many times...listened as Mom called you back from where ever it was the nightmares had plunged you. I was
outside the door for more than one of those nights. I think I cried almost as much as mom did, though like her, never let you see it--I hope not
You had more than your fair share of them. Saipan. Guam. Okinawa. Korea. Vietnam. One of those would have been too many...I would wonder how you
maintained your sanity amongst all that insanity, but in many ways...you didn't, did you?
You were as wounded as any boy who lost a limb, weren't you? Mom knew that, didn't she? Her brothers were just as wounded, how could she not know.
I suppose that I knew it as well, but never really until much, much later figured it out.
How frightened were you when your daughters, and your youngest son (not me) joined, and went off to God alone know where? One of your daughters and
that son bear the same wounds that you do...I've heard their dreams, too. Hard not to when the volume is maxed out.
Through the course of your long life you came to, I hope, some sort of peace with it.
I always knew, when you got a certain look in your face, you were remembering someone in a far away place, someone still young, full of life. Someone
who had that life snatched away by unkind fate.
A young pilot burning to death in his overturned fighter.
That young kid, so new you'd never even learned his name, but you found out the color of his brains.
The two men killed on either side of you by bomb shrapnel, while you were untouched.
The crew of the B-24 you were a volunteer gunner aboard, only three of you got out.
The crews of B-29's that never returned from missions over Korea. The wounded you helped evacuate, who died in your arms.
Those oh, so young boys who's B-52's never returned, and the young shattered wives who you and Mom helped move.
Yet somehow, or other, you plowed on. I was, and still am, surrounded by women in my life. You were, you are, the major male influence in my
life. Everything I am, or ever will be? You showed me the path. We weren't always on the best of terms, because you taught me to stand for what I
think, you taught me seldom give your word, because what's right today, may not be right tomorrow--but if you do give your word, keep it or die
No, you weren't perfect. You came equipped with a full set of foibles that I, more than once, came up against--usually with rather spectacular
results. But never, not once, did I ever doubt you loved me. It was probably pretty hard sometimes--I admit it, I can be an asshole upon occasion.
But I was so lucky to have you, and Mom. Whenever I needed you, truly needed you, you were there. In my many hospital stays, not once did I wake up
to an empty room--one of you was there--did you guys ever sleep?
By your successes, and even your failures, you taught me what it was to be a man. through success, you never gloated. Through failure, you got right
back up and kept swingin'. I'm sure that sometimes you wondered just what the Hell am I going to do now? But this little kid never saw that, ever.
All I ever saw was Daddy doing what he does...bein' Daddy. One of the two constant things in my young life.
I should be half the man you are, and I'll consider myself a success.
seagulls Dad (United States Army Air Corp/United States Air Force--ret.) Served from Dec. 1941 through 1946, 1948 through 1967. May God grant you
the peace that you've earned ten fold.
edit on 5/29/2016 by seagull because: (no reason given)
edit on 5/29/2016 by seagull because: (no reason given)
I cried reading this! This was really nice. I wanted to let you know that my step dad died Thursday, he was a ATS member and he always talked about
his chats with you and how much you two had good thoughts.
He was a lawyer, walking out of Universal Studio he fell and hit his head, had a heart attack and could not be saved.
I love that the wounds which aren't always seen are brought up. My grandpa had nightmares his entire life after Korea. Never talked much but the
stories we hear after the fact (and the waking up under tables screaming) led us all to be in awe that he kept it together for as long as he did.
Truly sorry for your loss SG.
My sincere condolences on the passing of your father. My own mother died only a few days after your father, also following a fall (though she fell
around Thanksgiving and her condition declined after a series of complications). Right out of college, my mother joined the Red Cross and went to
Vietnam. She came home and went into law enforcement and a lot of her closest friends were Vietnam vets (many of whom were also in law enforcement)
and she was very active in the veteran's community the rest of her life. My father on the other hand spent his early 20's protesting the Vietnam War
as his own father, who'd served in WWII and Korea as well, was fighting it. Like your parents, mine had to worry about their own son (my older
brother) through our recent wars in the ME.
What I learned early on was that the politics of why we go to war are irrelevant when it comes to the obligation we all have to honor the sacrifices
of those who fight our nation's wars and to provide for those who return.
Thanks for sharing.
edit on 2016-5-29 by theantediluvian because: (no reason given)
This was very moving, and probably similar to my Grandfather's story. I know almost nothing, except he served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. He would
have nightmares of being in foxholes. But that's it- that's all I know. He wouldn't talk about it.
edit on 29-5-2016 by chelsdh because: (no reason given)
I think your Dad would be so very proud of you this memorial day so take solace in the fact that your wonderful tribute has now been added to the
annuls of history where he can be honored indefinitely.
Applause for such an emotional and respectful dissertation seagull - that was beautiful to read.
My grandfather served in the trenches of WWI, and never a story save one, did he ever tell any of us, including his sons. He told a story about
introducing a group of soldiers from one of the French colonies in Africa to the joys of baseball. Seems the American rubes got snookered...the
soldiers from Africa smacked 'em around somethin' awful, apparently. Even that happy story is bittersweet, some weeks later the two units met up in
the trenches and none of the French colonials were alive.
It's hard to find amusing stories to relate to wide eyed kids, I guess.
...and there are fewer and fewer of them left. In our local paper today, two more of them left us. Both served in Europe during WW2. Within the
next decade, decade and a half all but a very old few will be left.
No more WW1 veterans are left, the last of them passed on almost four years ago.
Living, breathing history is leaving us behind...and we refuse to learn the lessons that are there to be learned. The same mistakes, over and over
We find scapegoats to blame. The evil military industrial complex. Politicians who don't listen. Some evil nefarious group of people. Some one
that we can blame is all we've ever needed apparently to be horribly, horribly stupid.
I look back and ask myself, since I can't ask him, what can I learn from my father, and his brothers and sisters in uniform?
Forgiveness always seems high up on the list. When I was a child, my father had little use for the Japanese. Quite understandable when they had been
trying to kill him for the better part of four years...and he, them for the same amount of time. Leaves a mark.
Later as he grew older, he looked back on it, and forgave them, and himself. I think, though I never dared to ask, it was going back to Pearl Harbor,
specifically the Arizona memorial, and seeing a group of Japanese retirees, half of whom had flown planes that fateful day, the others serving on
ships in the attacking force...and seeing them cry, and meeting with some of the boys that had been on the American ships that day.
My father arrived in Hawai'i on a troopship, the Arizona was still smoldering. That effected many American soldiers deeply, not all of it positively.
Hate is not too strong a term. Most were able to let go of the hate once the war ended, my father took a little longer, but he got there.
I look at the youngsters coming home from the mountains of Afghanistan, or the deserts of Iraq--or anywhere else that they go to stand the watch over
me and mine. ...and I find myself thinking that this is how my grandmothers must have felt watching my uncles and Dad go off to war, or my
great-great grandma/pa watching my granddad go. ...and I don't like it, I felt it when my brother went off to Iraq, twice... I was too young and
stupid to feel it when my sisters left home for the military...but I get a stark reminder of it everytime I find my sister sitting in the dark,
because of her nightmares. Or my brother who lost himself somewhere between Iraq, and home.
Yet time and again, we, when confronted by this, blame some nebulous unknowable other person. "Other"...
Just who the f*** is this "other"? ...and how do I beat the # out of him for doing this to my family, and friends?
Do you ever wonder that? I do. Even though I know the answer...and he stares out at me every time I shave.
Feel free to deny it. Doesn't change the answer any. By our meek, obsequies acceptance of the status quo, we allow guys and gals like my Dad, my
sisters, my brother, and all my other brothers...some of whom are here on ATS, to be sent into harms way for reasons we can't even be bothered to
Sent into Hells that defy description, yet become all too visible when we're confronted by their nightmares.
We put them there, those nightmares are our doing, because we can't say no. No more fighting because we can't be bothered to rein in our greed, or
we're too lazy to find another way.
How many more generations will be scarred? My great niece has a little boy, he's just about a year old. He's a cute little bugger...will he be part
of this unholy generational nightmare? Every single generation of my family, since the first of us came ashore in Plymouth, in the late 17th century
has fought in this nations wars.
Enough. I honor their service, and respect it more than my feeble words can ever convey.
There will always be those who will foment injustice, or decide that they need that thing/stuff more than the folks to whom it belongs. So there will
always be folks like my Dad who will stand up for them. It's time and past for a better way, and that begins by accepting that the blame, wholly lies
with us who allow this to go on.
I fully expect to be taken to task for this, but I really don't care. Truth is where you find it...no one says you have to accept it.
and we refuse to learn the lessons that are there to be learned. The same mistakes, over and over and over.
I quite agree. When the movie American Sniper came out, a lot of people felt it glorified war and the like. I didn't, I found it made me angry. So
angry that lives keep being ruined, same thing, over and over again. It broke my heart.
I had a history teacher that taught a course on Vietnam. The last day of class he would take the students outside and tell some of his stories. They
were not "amusing". They were haunting, eye opening and devastating. And I remember that class period very vividly. Those stories have stuck with me
for over a decade. And they do haunt me. But I am grateful that he shared (and still shares) his experiences.
A very powerful, heartfelt and moving tribute to your Dad! It made me cry. My Dad was a Navy vet and passed away 9 years ago. My Mom passed away two
months before your Dad. I miss them both terribly. Big Hug going out to you Seagull!
Wonderful and kind OP. He'll always be with you with his memory being kept alive.
Regards to you and yours.
...and there are fewer and fewer of them left. In our local paper today, two more of them left us. Both served in Europe during WW2. Within
the next decade, decade and a half all but a very old few will be left.
As it is a very important time to learn from those who are still living.
Husband and I recently lost his grandpa who served in the Navy- from WWII to Vietnam.
My grandfather who served in the Army in WWII passed in the 90s.
By our meek, obsequies acceptance of the status quo, we allow guys and gals like my Dad, my sisters, my brother, and all my other brothers...some of
whom are here on ATS, to be sent into harms way for reasons we can't even be bothered to learn.
So true...when will the world rise up an say no more manipulation - send the Politicians, the Banksters, the War Pigs sons to war - everyone last one
of their sons and daughters - make them bleed for the privileged lives they lead - feeding off the blood of millions.
No more war
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