Well, here we are again, Dad. Another Veterans day, only this one is without you in it. It's been almost a year since you answered one last call,
and it still hurts.
I'm sure some reading this wonder why I choose today, and Memorial Day, to talk about, or to, you. Because this is what you were, and are, a warrior,
and a soldier.
Time for my stream of consciousness ramble.
I am barely old enough to recall you as a warrior, but I remember the scars only too well. Nightmares, the flinches at certain types of noises. Even
after almost half a century out of uniform they were still evident.
Once upon a time, you volunteered to go to war...Pearl Harbor was burning, most of Europe lay prostrate beneath jack-booted heels, while uncounted
horrors were being perpetrated upon innocents. You were a young farm boy just working for a little spending money in a Portland, Oregon shipyard when
Pearl Harbor was attacked. Odds are you could have got a defferal, and avoided the draft and worked in that shipyard...or tried for that appointment
to Annapolis. But you chose instead to volunteer for the Army Air Corp, and go off to war.
I once asked you about that, why didn't you take that appointment to Annapolis, when it could have kept you out of the war, at least for a
You looked at me, with those chill blue eyes glinting, and said it wouldn't have been the right thing to do--not for that reason. If my brothers get
drafted, which two of 'em did, the others were too young, how can I be going to a school to avoid the fight? I don't think I ever had more respect
for you than I had at that moment.
Off you went. Hawai'i. Then Saipan, that little slice of Hell that visited you in your dreams for the rest of your life. The young pilot trapped in
his burning fighter screaming 'til some merciful soul shot him. The Japanese officer who you killed at bayonet point, who wouldn't let go of your
rifle in death 'til you had to break his fingers. You never told me that story, I heard you relive it. The two guys killed on either side of you by
bomb fragments while you were all but untouched...you always felt that after that day, everything else was playing with house money. Then there were
the civilians...those scared, so scared, brainwashed civilians who, rather than take a chance on mercy from those they were told had none, leaped to
their deaths, or were thrown, in the wave washed rocks below, I heard you relive that one, too. Wish to god I hadn't...
Then Okinawa where more of those dreams were made...dreams, yeah. Nightmares. Then VJ-day, and you spent a couple of months in Japan as part of the
Occupying forces. Then home. Back to school. All too soon, Korea. More nightmare. More young faces gone forever in a flash of fire, and in
Back home, now you're married (Hi, mom...I know you're reading this.), still in the Air Force, and off to Europe where my first three sisters came
along, then back to the States...and my fourth sister--then Vietnam, the early days. More faces gone, only this time not just boys from New York, or
Alabama, or California, but boys from Saigon, or small villages in the Mekong Delta...boys you'd trained, and come to love nearly as your own blood.
Time came, and back to Europe, and along came me (woo-hooooo!!).
But the dreams just wouldn't stop, wouldn't leave you alone, even while surrounded by those who loved you more than life itself--well Grandma
tolerated you, but I digress... This is about when you'd decided that this would be your last go 'round, or maybe one more enlistment. Back to the
States again, and SAC. Missile silos. I honestly don't know how you did it. I really, truly don't. Having that sort of responsibility, the horror
that you could have helped unleash would be the stuff of nightmare--God knows you didn't need any more of those... Then Fairchild AFB, more faces
gone as B52 crews didn't come home.
Finally, enough was enough. Retirement. ...and a sixth and final child, my little brother. Finished with college. Your daughters began to graduate
from school, and they joined the military--Navy, Air Force, Marines (never did get over that one, did you ?), and Navy, again. The fourth
daughter has some of those same sorts of nightmares, did you know that? I may be the only one who does, well maybe her husband... Then I graduated
from school. I know you wanted me to join, and badly, though you never pressured me, that I noticed anyway...'course you could write entire books
about what I didn't notice during that period of my life (my fault entirely). But after one attempt, I decided against the military. Until this very
moment, I never really wondered what you thought about that...too late now, I suppose. ...and finally, little brother graduated. ...and joined the
Army, saw as much, if not more combat than you did, I think during his two tours in Iraq. That's when I learned what Mom, and my grandparents must
have felt watching their boys go off to war, not knowing if they'd ever see them again.
You all came home though. Physically whole, for the most part. Mentally, and spiritually, that was a bit more problematic, wasn't it?
On days like today, you'd remember those faces, still young, full of the invincibility of youth, gone in that flash of pain and fire, or horribly
PTSD's is the phrase they use these days. You had your fair share, but never, not once, did you let it stop you. You helped Mom raise six kids, and
most of us turned out pretty damned good--and the rest wasn't your fault. You and I had our run ins. To put it bluntly, I was a brat during my
teenage years. But you were always there, and whatever sort of man I grew up to be, you're the reason. You were, and are, my ideal, the sort of
quiet person who just does what he has to do, that I will aspire to be for the remainder of my days on this Earth. Because, when the time comes, I
want to be able to look you in the eye, and say, "Did the best I could, Dad."
Rest well, my hero. You earned it.
As every day passes there are fewer and fewer of the Greatest Generation left for us to learn from, and in many ways, to emulate. Take a moment and
think about what they sacrificed, and why...
American. British. Canadian. French. Indian. South African. Belgian. Scots. Russian. Chinese. Australian. ...the list goes on, and on.
Rich men. Poor men. Farm boys. City boys. Wyoming cowboys. Wallstreet stockbrokers. New York gangsters. Navaho. Boys from London. Brisbane.
Johannesburg. Paris. Moscow. Peking. New Delhi. ...and a million cities, villages, hamlets, and farms scattered around the world.
Every day another passes from us, their stories unknown, and unheard. Most went because it was the right thing to do. A job needed doing, and they
were chosen to do it.
Most came home to life as a civilian. Some came home to sleep eternally in the green grass of home. Others came home, but their names are known only
to God Above.
Take a moment. If you have the chance, say thank you.
edit on 11/11/2016 by seagull because: (no reason given)
Im right behind you Bro!
My WW2 Soldier Dad is still answering the phone. He will be 90 next month. He joined the Army after Pearl Harbor. He was based right near where
Fukashima is now. His old base was completely taken out by the sunami that wasted Fukashima. He doesnt talk about the war.
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