Friday morning I went to my children’s Veterans’ Day Program at school. The local VFW and assembled veterans were seated at the front of the room while the children sat on the floor facing them.
The mother in me was moved by all those high-pitched, little voices trying to hit the high notes in the National Anthem. I’m always surprised how quickly my eyes well up where my children are involved.
The daughter in me teared up as I thought about my father. At the age of eighteen, he was drafted into the Army and spent two years overseas during the Korean War. His jacket hangs in my closet; his portrait in my dining room. He was dashing. And though he never talked about those two years, he was fiercely proud. He passed away five years ago.
The historian in me mourned the inevitable loss of the collective human experience over the last seventy years. The veterans passed the microphone down the line, stating their names and ranks. “I fought in the Battle of the Bulge.” “We bombed Hanoi.” “I was a radio operator in a B-24.” “Medic, Vietnam.” “U.S. Army Infantry, third generation Veteran.” These men had countless stories of duty and valor, heartache and fear, but we would not hear them. If they are anything like my father, they don’t talk about it. They are seen as Grandfathers and kindly old neighbors, the audacity of their youth softened by time. Their recognition comes but once a year, on Veterans’ Day.
I left that elementary school gymnasium and headed straight for the library. I checked out Tom Brokaw's book, The Greatest Generation. I'm on page 114 tonight, and I may just pass up the new episode of Upstairs, Downstairs to continue reading. As Brokaw states, these were ordinary men and women who were asked to do extraordinary things.
They should continue to be honored every day.
We should never forget.
|My father, 1950.|