|Flags covering the National Mall. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Americanflags.jpg|
Note: Today is OCD Monday, but more importantly, in the United States it is Memorial Day. So this post is mainly about what Memorial Day means to me.
A year before my father died, I visited him and my mother on Memorial Day. As I walked up the steps of the deck in the back of their house, my father came to the door to greet me.
“Happy Memorial Day,” I said. “I don’t actually know if you’re supposed to tell people that.”
My father smiled and said, “Well, I’m just grateful to have made it home.”
This was 1996. My father had been discharged from the Army on Dec. 25, 1945. Fifty-one years after he “made it home,” he was still grateful.
On Memorial Day, I, along with millions of others, think about the soldiers that didn’t make it home. I think of the families grieving for the child, sibling, parent, relative or friend that didn’t return home from service.
I also think of my father on Memorial Day, and his gratitude and his service to his country during World War II.
My father was drafted in 1942. He was a young farmer who had lived in rural Central Virginia all his life.
He was pulled from basic training before he was finished in order to begin training as a medic.
His company was eventually sent to the Pacific Theatre.
He was on the island of Peleliu on Sept. 30, 1944, in combat when he was shot in the arm. He recovered on a hospital ship and then returned to combat.
When I was growing up, my father didn’t talk specifically about his time in service. We met some of his former Army buddies and their families, and he told general stories of life in the Army, but not what it was like for him.
My father was not a person to talk about emotions.
Have you ever read “The Greatest Generation,” by Tom Brokaw? It tells the stories of people who returned from war in 1945 and took up their lives with purpose and resolve?
My father was like that.
When he was in his early 70s, I asked him if he would write down his life story for me. To my surprise, he agreed, so I bought a notebook for him and he wrote.
He needed a second notebook to finish.
In those written words, he was much more open about what it was like for him going into battle. I found out things about him that I never would have known otherwise.
So on this Memorial Day, I think about him and his gratitude, and I think, how can I be less grateful for life?To my readers who are in the United States, may you have a safe Memorial Day. And to all my readers, may we be grateful for every bit of time we have.
What does Memorial Day mean to you?