Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day memories

I need to take a few minutes to thank a few veterans in my life for their sacrifice...

You were a shy country boy from up a holler when you were sent to Vietnam. You ended up becoming Forrest Gump. As a scout you looked for booby traps and retrieved pieces of bodies of kids your age to send home. When you came home yourself, you were almost shattered. You preservered. And in middle age, you married my mother. You have been the only true father figure I have ever had. I thank you.

You were a kid from a upper middle class family from Virginia. You joined the Air Force because you knew the Army would draft you the next week. You went to Vietnam to be cook, and had to fight when the Tet Offensive came knocking at your kitchen door. You came home also a troubled, restless man. You married my mother first, and engendered me. You drug us all over the country looking for a greener pasture. Then you abandoned us, actually me, to the emotional abuse of my mother's family. I found you again 22 years later. I rarely talk to you but you have righted your life and gave me mine. I thank you.

You were 21 years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Three years later you were in the Pacific going from island to island to fight them. You were one of the first soldiers to step into Hiroshima, dressed only in summer fatigues, unaware of what radiation was. You were wounded, and got the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. You came back to Eastern Kentucky to marry a little teenage girl with Rheumatic fever who needed your medical benefits. You ended up having 11 children with that little girl, and are still married to her now, 58 years later. One of those children is my mother. I never got along with you, I still don't, but I do love and respect you. Thank you.

You were a career Air Force man who flew bombing missions in Viet Nam while your family waited for you in the Philippines. During the Tet Offensive, you risked your life to keep flying into the combat zone to evacuate soldiers using a airstrip half blown away. For that, you got the Silver Star. You retired a Lieutenant Colonial, and raised your family, with my aunt your wife, contented in a job well done. Thank you.

You went into the Army at the age of 19 for college money. You learned how to fly Chinook helicopters, and to maintenance them, probably too well. You flew combat missions in Panama. You flew combat missions in Somalia. You flew combat missions in Desert Storm, where you had friends die in front of you. You went to Afghanistan, then Iraq keep the Chinooks flying. You have 5 combat patches and a year of service left to go before you retire. You think George W. Is a genius, you poor deluded thing. For keeping your boots on and back to the wall, I thank you.

You went into the Navy for a better life. You became a corpsman, then started working with the Marines. You traveled around the world. Somewhere on this journey you met The Dragon, then started dancing with him, almost to your ruin and the cost of your life. You left the Navy in a way that you wish you could change, so much so you even mentioned going back in to right the wrong. I love you for showing me what true courage is. Thank you baby.

And thank you to all the service men and women who put your life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness on the line second by second. You serve voluntarily to protect what this country truly stands for, even if the Commander in Chief who sends you into harms way is unworthy to send you there. I thank you.