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Archive for the tag “D-Day”

Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day

flags1Today we remember the people who died serving our country.  We also remember those who served our country and died.  We also remember loved ones who have died, whether or not they served in the military.

My father was an Army veteran, who served in World War II.  When he was merely eighteen, a troop ship transported him across the Atlantic Ocean to England.  He later crossed the English Channel to France.  One of his cousins died on a beach in Normandy on D-Day, as described in The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan.  Those were brave young men who arrived in France to push back the Nazis.  Dad was in France and Belgium until the surrender of Germany and then was in California, preparing to be sent to the Pacific, when Japan surrendered.  He liked to say that they heard he was coming and gave up.

My father did not die in the war or I would not be here to tell you about him.  When he died in 2003, the military gave him a 21 gun salute, which choked me up.  My mother has the flag that was given to her as part of the ceremony.

On Friday, I attended the funeral of my Russian friend, Slava.  At his funeral, one of the speakers told of how Slava was five years old when he was injured by bombing of Russia in 1942, before America was in the war.  Slava came to the United States with his wife and child after he was a respected physicist in Russia.  He came here for freedom.

Both men loved America.  I miss them both.  I remember them both as honorable men such as countless others whom we honor on this day.

“It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.” A.Lincoln

In Remembrance

Today is my father’s birthday.  He was born in 1924.  In a previous post, Something for Dad, I mentioned that he epitomized The Greatest Generation that Tom Brokaw wrote about.  I also proudly quoted the therapist who told me, “They don’t make guys like that anymore.”  They don’t.

Dad was born at home, in a house by the park in Craig, Nebraska, the youngest of four.  He had one brother and two sisters.  In his family, he was called Johnny.  Craig was a very small town, maybe 300 people.  Johnny’s graduating class was very small, less than 20 as I recall.  He graduated at age 16 because they did not have kindergarten.

He went to college for one year, then worked for the Union Pacific Railroad for a few months until he was old enough to join the Army in WWII.  In 1945, at age 21, he had served in England when it was being bombed, then France after D Day, and Belgium for Battle of the Bulge.  After Germany surrendered that year, he was in California on his way to the Pacific theatre when Japan surrendered, so he got to go home instead.

He went to college at Omaha University on the G.I. Bill.  He graduated in 2  years.  He went to school more than full-time, worked part-time, and even fit in varsity tennis and lettered.  He met my mother at O.U. and they married in March 1948, before he turned 24. 

The yearbook in 1948 included the goals of each senior.  Most wrote about career plans.  Johnny wrote something about being a good husband and father.  He fulfilled both.  Actually, he exceeded his goals.  He was great, not just good.  He was the best.

His first job out of college he stuck with for 35 years.  He worked at a bank, starting as a teller and rising to V.P. and Trust Officer.

He was married to my mother for the rest of his life, from 1948 until 2003.  They got to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

Without describing the many events during those many years, I ask you to use your imagination.  What you imagine about a devoted family man is likely true of my Dad.

It was a privilege to be his son.  

Happy Birthday, Dad!  I love you — always!

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