In honor of Veterans’ Day, and in honor of my dad, today’s post is a reprise from Veterans’ Day 2013. Everything I said a year ago is still true. We owe my dad — and ALL veterans — more gratitude than it is possible to express.
I always thought it was funny that my dad, having lived nearly his entire life in land-locked Nebraska (he was born in South Dakota but only lived there for a short time) chose to enlist in the Navy. Apparently he chose the Navy because they offered him the best opportunity to be a musician. He tried out for the Naval Music School and was accepted in the Music Corps. Instead of carrying a gun, my dad carried a saxophone and a clarinet.
You see, though a baker by trade, my dad loved music. It always seemed entirely appropriate to me that my dad spent his military years entertaining troops during World War II. He was stationed on the island of Trinidad.
I wish I had talked more with my dad about his years in the Navy. He had, to my knowledge, never been out of the country. Heck, I would guess he had never been out of Nebraska. Here he was, an inexperienced boy of only 18 or so, sent to basic training in Chicago and music school in Washington, D.C., then on to Trinidad. No friends with him, his mom and dad and sisters far away with no internet or even much in the way of telephones I would assume. He probably was nervous and excited.
He was one of many young boys and girls who were experiencing the same mixed feelings of excitement and fear, loneliness and suffocation from being around other people all of the time. Those soldiers, sailors, airmen/women and Marines needed the comfort of music.
A number of years ago, my husband and I were able to visit the Normandy area of France. We walked on Omaha Beach. I don’t think anything I’ve ever seen has had such a profound impact on me as seeing that enormous section of beach, onto which those men – boys, really – involved in the D-Day invasion had to disembark from their ship and run like hell. Brave, brave men.
And that’s just one example. There are thousands and thousands of stories of young people who have fought in places so, so far from home to keep America safe and free. They have truly sacrificed, and continue to sacrifice, so much for us so that we can bring up our families as we see fit and worship as we please.
My husband also served, in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. Thankfully for him (and for me), he never had to serve in Vietnam. I’m proud of him and his service to all of us. (I don’t have a picture of him in his uniform or I would post it!) In fact, I’m pretty sure all of us know a vet, perhaps more than one. Today is a good day to tell him or her thanks for their service and for helping keep us safe and free.
Happy Veterans’ Day!