This is a piece I wrote originally for Memorial Day. I wanted to share it again on this Veteran's Day, for my favorite veteran. To all of my family--uncles, cousins, and friends-- who have served our country, THANK YOU!
On this Veteran's Day, I'd like to remember all of my family members who have served in the armed forces, starting with my dad. He never talks much about his time in Korea. It was before me and my brothers and sister were thought of. It was before he met my mother. He was a young man, the oldest still living at home (seven before him were grown and married, four still at home). His father had died from a heart attack while he was driving home from town and was killed instantly. He had started college. He wanted to be a coach. He was an athlete, a good one. Then he was called to Korea.
I have heard him talk about the trip over...not the way most of us want to travel. I have heard him talk about the cold (he's never been so cold as he was there), and hot (you just can't imagine--and he grew up in the plains of Kansas). I've heard him talk about building roads--spending days building roads for the troops to use and finally getting them done, only to have them blown up overnight, so they built the roads again. I've heard him talk, once, about standing watching a ship unloading all the men -- thousands and thousands of men, when a tidal wave came in and they were all gone. All of them, just like that. There one minute, gone the next.
He is beginning to share more of his time in Korea with us but only in bits and pieces. For most of my life, we've seen the uniform hanging in the closet. We've seen a few pictures. When I was younger he still kept in touch with some friends from the army who lived in Arizona. I don't know whatever happened to them.
Several years ago, my son and I visited Washington, D.C. and while we were there we visited the Korean War Memorial, along with all the other memorials. Instantly, both my son and I knew this was something my dad had to see, in person. Fortunately, a couple of years ago, my brother and his son took my parents to see it. It moved my dad to tears. They went back again, at night. He said it looked just like it was...dark, rainy, and cold.
He has spent the majority of his time, the last 30 years, as commander of the American Legion post in his community. He has made it his job to make certain the flags are flying at every cemetery in the county on this and every Memorial Day. He has performed military ceremonies at funerals for countless veterans and handed flags to wives, children and family members for years.
To say that I am proud of this man, my father, is a vast understatement. Of course, there is much more to my father than just this piece, but today, on Veteran's Day, I want to honor this piece. I'm proud to tell people that my father is who he is...proud, strong, brave, true, and loving. He's my dad.
Thanks, Dad, for all that you do and have done for our family, our town, our state, and our nation!
I love you!