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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I remember

So how was your Memorial Day? Are you like me -- did you catch up on a bunch of chores around the house and yard? My horoscope said this was a weekend to get organized, and I made some strides in that general direction (including the annual tax records shred -- bye bye, 2002).

Did you do anything to remember the veterans? I spent some time thinking about my favorite vet, my dad. He was in the Navy in World War II -- dropped out of high school in his senior year to get in on the action. It was toward the end of the war. He went to Guam, where, the story goes, he delivered mail. He had more than a few unkind words to say about the Japanese from the time he got back.

That was a defining moment for him. It was as far from home as he would ever get. I think the trip he made to San Francisco to see me graduate from law school may have been his only other jaunt west of Philadelphia.

Of course, we kids came after the war, with the baby boom, and so we never really got to take our own read as to how devoted a sailor Dad was. But he sure was an enthusiastic member of the veterans' post across the street, where the old boys used to hang out with great regularity. Amidst decades of membership, our father was even the commander of the post for a few years.

When Dad left us several years ago, a group of guys from the veterans showed up at the wake and did a little service. These were Vietnam vets, mostly just a year or two older than I. I was impressed by how much respect they paid one of the last local members of the Greatest Generation. At the cemetery the next day, they took the flag off the coffin and gave it to me -- "the eldest son," said whoever was in charge. I wasn't expecting it, but of course I took it with great reverence.

It's quite the screwed-up world we're witnessing now, but I still find it hard to imagine what it was like around here in the early '40s, when Dad and his buddies signed up. Nazi death camps. Rising sun war flags. Steel pennies. Silver nickels. Rationing.

Those guys went about the task with a singleness of purpose that we won't likely see in our lifetimes. The duty was clear, and the response was sure. God bless them and rest them.

Comments (5)

I thought of him yesterday and about how much I miss him. I also recalled, with a smile, one of the stories he used to tell about being on Guam.

They lived in Quonset Huts, and got a pretty steady diet of Spam (the kind you eat). One day, he received a Care Package from Granny. He eagerly opened it, surrounded by his buddies (It is customary to share the edible contents of Care Packages with one's buddies). Turns out that the edible that Granny thought he needed was a can of Spam!

His buddies promptly nailed it to a column in the Quonset Hut.

We are increasingly and dramatically indifferent. Mine was the only flag on the block this weekend. Young, old, black, white, brown--no one made the outward effort of displaying a flag or anything in memorial of ALL who have served, and of course, fallen. I don't offer this to be a goody-goody. I offer it to express my concern over our collective priorities. We put yellow ribbon magnets on our cars that say, "Support the Troops," and notwithstanding the speciousness of those monikers, do we even recognize our soldiers upon their return? No, we're too busy. We got stuff to do. Can't be bothered. Too comfortable.


My thoughts go out to your family Jack, as we move from the Greatest Generation to the Greediest Generation... in a state with the 44th lowest taxes in America and folks like Stevie Sheep still cry wolf.

I spent my Memorial Day doing important work around the new house, and fending off unwarranted personal attacks from Oregonians for Immigration Reform.

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And support Home Depot!

I have my dads flag too, it was handed to me also 2 years ago. I cried, and now my son has it in his room-proudly on display.

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