Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day, from my Dad and me

I repost this every Memorial Day.   It's a letter from my Dad (pictured)  to his Uncles on a Memorial Day several years ago. Pretty self explanatory. He copied my siblings and myself. He sent it to me in a plain white #10 envelope with a little note attached in his (usual) henscratch that said something simple like he thought I might like a copy, that this was something he felt strongly about and had for years and finally was able to articulate it -something like that, I don't remember his exact words now. I have it in my "treasures" box.

My Dad has a unique way of writing that combines factual information with the emotions he feels in a straightforward manner that, while it isn't flowery or wordy, is perfectly descriptive and yet poignantly eloquent. He puts a fine point on the subject and then blurs it a little. 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. With a wad of Kleenex in hand. Then I thank God for my Uncle Paul and Uncle Ralph, my Dad, and so many thousands of others who could have been the recipient of this very letter.


"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 could 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 your 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."

I was fortunate enough to use this day as an opportunity to sun, swim, visit with family and eat David's ribs.  I'm so thankful for the experience.

And so,

 I would like to thank and celebrate the people who have made independence, (and me eating ribs under a banner yet waiving) possible through the generations and today.  I can never repay the debt, but will ever be grateful.

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