Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Day of Thanks and Remembering

On this day of remembrance, my thanks to the families of the fallen, of all generations. 

My father served in the Army during WWII, part of what we now call "The Greatest Generation".  All I really know are stories I heard as a kid, so these may be real facts, or they may be bad memories.  I was told he served as a tank driver in the 1st Army, "The Big Red 1", and I was told he was or would have been under George S. Patton's command.  I'm not sure those are compatible facts.  Dad was seriously injured in a stateside training accident and never deployed to the European theater.  Dad was in a lead or observer's tank, one with an open area where the turret goes in regular tanks.  The tank rolled, Dad was thrown out and broke several vertebrae in his lumbar spine.  He spent many months in a body cast in bed, and never returned to active duty.  I'm unsure of many of the details of this, as he rarely ever talked about it.   

Dad passed away of cancer almost 30 years ago.  

When I read the true stories of the acts of the people of that era - not just the fighters but also the families and the ways the country changed to pull off the amazing things we did - I am simply amazed and awed.  It was a time when ordinary people did extraordinary things.  For us.  For the world of today to even exist.  In so many ways it seems the modern US has let them down. 

I never served in the military, and while I never would have guessed these words would ever leave my lips (well, fingers) at the time, I really should have.  I think some of the training would be of use in the coming days.  I came of draft age during the Vietnam war, and due to the timing of events in the war and my age, the war was winding down.  I recall registering for the draft lottery and getting a high enough number that I thought I would never be called (and that was the case).  At that time, enlisting as a volunteer was not something people I knew talked about, and I never thought of it. During my senior year of high school, I recall taking some of those standardized tests, besides the SAT, and getting a pretty good score on one of them (NMSQT?).  As a result, I got a ton of letters from colleges asking me to consider coming to their schools.  Among those letters was one from West Point.  They, of course, could not guarantee admission (the process required being nominated by your congress critter or senator) but would "look favorably" upon an application.  It is rare in our lives for opportunity to knock quite so loudly.  And a shame for us to ignore the door.

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