Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Forgotten "Veterans"

We celebrated Veterans Day today in a handful of ways. The flag was up before 7 a.m., of course, and we participated in our community celebration at the clubhouse. A local color guard presented the flags, our choral group sang patriotic songs, we heard stories from resident veterans, and we all sang and cheered to the various corps anthems as veterans stood at attention and received grateful applause - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard. I loudly applauded my dear husband when he stood to be acknowledged for his service in the U. S. Army in Vietnam. I once marched in protest of that war; I will always be proud of the men and women who answered their call to duty.

I was a little nostalgic today, though, for my dad. My dad was born in 1914 and would have been a prime candidate to serve in World War II. He looked like a healthy American man, ready and able to serve his country. He was, however, 4F, due to a childhood accident. At the age of 12, he was hit by a hardball during a baseball game. He had continued vision problems, infections, complications, and his eye was eventually removed at the age of 18; he wore a glass eye for the rest of his life.

Dad "served" during WWII by working for the Pratt-Whitney Company, assembling airplane motors. According to mom's stories, he even tested the motors occasionally which was not in his job description!

We hear a lot about "Rosie the Riveter" - those women who filled in for men who served overseas during WWII. We don't hear a lot about men who stayed at home and also served their country by working on the assembly lines to supply the fighting forces with the tools they needed to fight the enemy.

My dad was my hero. He was a gentle, quiet man. If he had been eligible, I have no doubt that he would have joined the armed forces and served gallantly across the seas to defend our country and fight for the freedom that all people deserve. I imagine that Dad had a few painful moments wondering what people thought when they saw this outwardly healthy man living with his family on the homefront when others were under enemy fire in distant lands.

So, on this Veterans Day, I say "Thanks, Dad" for serving our country.

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