I guess by now we could call this shameless laziness, copying a previous post, but my preference is calling it a deep, important connection. A couple of years ago on Veterans Day I posted this letter. It's a letter from my Dad to his Uncles on Memorial Day. Pretty self explanatory. He copied my siblings and myself and sent it to me in a plain white #1o envelope with a little note attached in his (usual) henscratch that said something simple like that he thought I might like a copy, that this was something he felt strongly about, needed to get out, something, I don't remember now. I have it in the "treasures" box.
My Dad has a way of writing that goes right to the core, right to my core. This is one of his most powerful pieces and I only read it once a year, but on that one occasion I read it over and over and over. And over. Then I have to go wash my face, thank God for my Uncle Paul and Uncle Ralph, my Dad. Wash my face again.
Dear Paul and Ralph,
I guess I would not have started this letter had not some things come together. Mainly the publication of the book THE GREATEST GENERATION by Tom Brokaw, the observance of Memorial Day by the nation, and the need I have to tell you both that you have always been my heroes. I'm sure I culd not say that face to face without making a fool of myself. My son and I have frequently talked of the selfless, noble self-sacrifice of your generation during World War II, and have lamented the passing of that great large-hearted outlook in defense of your country. It has probably not been said as it should be said yet, but Tom Brokaw does a credible job while we are waiting for perfection.
Both my son and I are in awe of your generation. That something horrible has happened to the American heart and spirit between then and now we both know, but we do not know how to say it. The wonder for both of us is that the people of your generation are not affected by the current one. There remains the same spirit of manners, helpful cooperation, humility and the total lack of pretension as were present when you served.
Among the several blessings I realize regarding my children is that they all three got somehow the gene for analysis and the ability to see, quickly, to the core of a matter, and as a result we talk of the two of you more than you realize. I know you have seen the "media" coverage of Memorial Day and all the hype attendant on such an occasion. I doubt that all that meant much to either of you. Well, this letter is a poor attempt at bringing the hyperbole right down to the most elementary level, in an effort to persuade you, fifty four years after the fact, that, if you both had not risked getting you ass shot off a hundred, a thousand times, we would all likely be speaking Japanese or German now.
So never doubt that, in the extended family, everyone in my age range and younger, whether they say it or not, realize that we all owe you, both of you, a debt that we can never pay by simple thank yous. And it is not strange that the attempt to express what we feel chokes us up so that we feel like fools trying to get out what we feel.
We all know that you are heroes, and you will always be.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~It's a common myth that in order to be called a veteran you have to've served in a war, but actually you just have to've served in the military. Clearly there are distinctions, particularly to a mother, a family, a friend, but I believe I want to say thank you to anyone who served. In the miliary. Who signed up. Wore a uniform. Learned how to be a soldier. Took the chance that while they were "in", they could be sent somewhere or called up somewhere dangerous or far away, and, well, bad things could happen. So thank you from me. Thank you. If you were here I would hug, bake, have you sit at my kitchen table and pour you a cup of coffee, offer you a beer and some nachos..... but cyberly speaking I am just so grateful for you. It's about all I can do from here.
Locally there was a Veterans Day breakfast at my childrens' school, where I had the honor of serving veterans coffee. I've never waitressed, but every year I am honored to don an apron and refresh coffee cups. It's MOST difficult to do it dry eyed because rather than seeing a cafeteria full of humans sitting at tables talking and eating, what I see is a room full of senior relatives of the children in our school, the 'people' of our kids, (that's what we call 'em in The South - yer 'people') a sea of folks who've every single one served our Country. Every. Single. One. And I get to serve them. Just coffee, but I get to serve them. It's powerful, it's humbling, and I couldn't dare say it out loud because it would sound EVER so melodramatic, and I know it must be so because every year I look around and no one else is fighting away tears but me. Well hell. Screw 'em. These folks deserve a wrenched tear or two.