I’m the youngest of 8, born during the Vietnam war. My father, a commander in the U.S. Navy, was a fighter pilot. I didn’t know much about my dad as a young girl, except that he was gone all the time. When I was old enough to understand, I know he was deployed for over a dozen missions that lasted months on end during those years. Each time leaving a wife and eight kids, never knowing if he would see us again. Each coming and going was bittersweet. In those days, the calls were infrequent and a mix of fear and excitement would swell with the ringing… Is daddy ok?
I wasn’t old enough to understand war, the countless funerals of men I never knew, the awful things people would say to my mom, to our family, to my dad, the threats…
And it wasn’t until my first visit to Pearl Harbor as an adult that I feel I truly understood. Although different than my dad’s war, I wept as I began to understand the risk, the cost, the bravery of our military personnel and their families. I felt the fear and strength it must have taken every time my dad had to leave. The courage and love it must have taken my mother to care for eight kids alone and to see my father leave again and again. For the first time ever, I got a sense of what Memorial Day is really all about.
So, regardless of your political position, this year between your projects and BBQs, take a moment and recognize that we owe a debt of gratitude to those who serve in the military and honor to those who have fallen protecting our nation and liberties. Then whisper a prayer for our world, for peace and for safety to those who are working now to protect our freedoms. Let’s remember what Memorial Day is all about.
One more thing….Dad, thank you, I’m so proud of you.