Posted by: deadmousediaries | November 11, 2015

Heartfelt Thanks of a Grateful Nation

The are here an estimated 22 million veterans in the U.S. today. One way to think of that might be to say that for every 14 of us who choose to remain home and safe, we have asked one other person to step up and carry the load to ensure our safety. As the mother of a solider now, I understand the potential of that request. I am proud to be an Army Mom and daughter of a WWII on this Veterans Day.

The older I get, the more I believe that there is no such thing as coincidence. One new age writer describes those ah-ha moments we all experience as go-incidence, sign posts in the universe that we’re on the right path and headed toward something meaningful. As a writer, I have come to depend on go-incidence knowing that the next story will appear when I am ready and it may come through an unexpected channel.

A chance encounter with stranger in the military history section at Northwood Books sent me down that kind of path this summer. It led me to spending time with three WWIII veterans this fall, all members of the Potomac Highlands WWII Roundtable. They meet each month in Hagerstown and their conversations churned up my own memories.

When I was growing up, my dad would take a break for an hour of TV on Tuesday nights. He would put the lid on the paint can, or turn off the table saw or smooth out the last trowel of cement so we could both spend an hour together with Vic Morrow. For those who don’t know, Vic Morrow was an actor. I knew him best as the expressionless Sgt. Saunders from the TV series Combat. Every week, Chip Saunders and the handsome Lt. Hanley would bring WWII into our living room. Caje, Kirby, Littlejohn and Doc were part of the platoon that we tuned in to follow as they led us across Europe.

For me, it was TV entertainment and another special thing shared between me and my dad. Critics called it a gritty and realistic drama. One reviewer said the program refused to glamorize either the soldiers or the war but instead focused on the struggle of soldiers to maintain their own humanity.

I always knew my dad had been a soldier, too, but it never occurred to me that he had lived those TV episodes and maybe had to work to reconcile the inhumanity he had witnessed. I don’t know. He never talked about it.

My dad is gone now, and so are his stories. That’s a hard thing for a writer to accept, that time’s run out, the door has closed, there are no other second chances. I suppose that’s why I was drawn to the Roundtable assignment. As I interviewed those men and captured their stories, I felt I was also honoring my dad; it made me feel connected. It also helped me understand why he didn’t bring his stories into our family’s living room.

The men I met all had powerful and compelling experiences to share. One had been a gunner on a tank in Europe. Another had been a Navy radar man and had been part of six landings, including Okinawa. The other had been a medic who stepped out of his barracks early one Sunday morning to see Japanese planes flying overhead, bomb bay doors open, ready to strike Pearl Harbor.

Each of them had witnessed horrible scenes and without exception, none of them saw their service as heroic. They all had jobs to do and they did them. It was just that simple.

Those 22 million men and women among us who have earned the title military veteran didn’t sign on to be heroes. They were simply ready to do the job in front of them.  No matter where or how they served, that commands my respect. 

When our daughter was traveling across the state to attend agricultural fairs some years ago, she had a phrase that always brought a smile at the end of her speeches. She would tell audiences: You don’t need to appreciate agriculture every day, just on the days that you eat.

We designate Veterans Day this one time of year to honor our service men and women and remember their sacrifice. It’s also good to remember we don’t need a special tribute for our vets on this one day or on any day. We simply need to thank them on all the days we have freedom and are grateful.

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Responses

  1. Beautifully expressed! Thank you for reminding me of the value of my freedoms.

  2. Very nice………I think it is awesome that you’ve had the experience to hear some of the stories of those who have served.


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