25 May 2008

"Happy" Memorial Day

I always find it a little jarring when someone wishes me a "Happy Memorial Day." I grew up hearing that Memorial Day was a solemn occasion of remembrance, not a fun holiday like Fourth of July. Even Veteran's Day is happier, because it celebrates all veterans, not just those who lost their lives in wartime.

Even though I am a g*dd*mn hippie liberal peacemonger, I am still a big sappy crybaby when it comes to soldiers. I am truly amazed and appreciative that people have the courage to risk their lives for something above their own interests.

In honor of my father, and those who died fighting the Nazis with him in World War II, my dad's induction story:

My dad was born in 1918, which made him a little bit older than the average recruit when the United States joined the war in Europe. He was determined to go and enlisted, but the Army lost his enlistment papers. Twice. He could have just disappeared in those days before computers, but he really wanted to serve his country.

During the time he was waiting to be inducted, he built warships in Long Beach, California, working as a welder, as did several of his brothers.

Finally he quit his job, sold his car and turned up at the induction center with the clothes on his back and $5 in his pocket. He said "You HAVE to induct me now - I have nowhere else to go." That is classic Dad behavior - taking matters into his own hands. So they took him.

He trained in Oklahoma, then crossed the Atlantic on the former luxury liner the USS United States and was an Army Master sergeant in France, Belgium and Germany, including the Battle of the Bulge. His job was to take the big guns up to the front and make sure they worked so that other people could fire at the enemy.

He never mentioned the war once to me until 1984, which I remember because we were watching the Olympics on TV and, seeing the huge fireworks display, he started talking about how loud battle was. He said during the Battle of the Bulge, the guns were fired so much that their barrels glowed red in the darkness.

In honor of Memorial Day, I'd like to thank my dad and all the other veterans out there for their service, and to remember those who did not come home. May all those who are serving in the military and working as contractors come home alive and well.


mar said...

so proud of your dad & everyone who risked and lost their lives in battle.

super des said...

I agree with the "happy" Memorial Day thing. And I'm of the like mind re: soldiers. It's not their fault the president decided to try and get everyone killed. (That applies to all presidents, not just the current one.)
My Dad too rarely speaks about the war, though his was Vietnam instead of WW2. Luckily (?) he was a medic and tried to *save* people.

So yeah, Thank you Memorial Day.

Major Bedhead said...

I have a friend who was in the Army and he's always surprised when I express my admiration for the troops. Just because I think this war is idiotic doesn't mean that I think the troops are as well.

A big thank you to your dad and to everyone else who serves.

Traceytreasure said...

Absolutely agree with you about today. It's a solemn day. It leaves me feeling very sad for those who've lost their lives and for those who were left behind after losing their loved ones.

I've sent thank you card to the military in the past and I couldn't read the cards without crying. I hope they know how much they are appreciated.

There are just no words to describe my gratitude for them all.

It would make me happy to have all of our military home safe and sound.

Please hug your Dad extra tight for me today. Tell him I said "thank you!"

Neil said...

On a day when most of us go to the beach or shopping, it was great to remember what today is all about, thanks to your post.

Anonymous said...

My husband always thanks the veterans (or actives) he sees this weekend for their service. He does this on veterans day, too. He'd never be the type to enlist himself, and we don't have close relatives who have served.

My family used to spend this weekend trotting around to the graveyards and placing flowers on the graves of all of our dead relatives. I don't live nearby the graveyards anymore, but I always remember toting my grandmothers from cemetery to cemetery with potted geraniums.

gandhi rules said...

who's neutron? help me, i. don't. know.

I feel like your little snot nosed sister coming over here and seeing how many blogs and how much you post..

yer famous. I'm prodigal.

Julie said...

I agree, and memorial sales make me so angry I want to hit something. One day isn't enough as it is.

Suzanne said...

Thank you for sharing your dad's story and for your moving post. My grandfather was wounded in combat in WWII.

whall said...

I thank your father for his service.

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