Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cruising the VFW Halls with My Dad

lightning sr. is on the left

My father always closely identified with the army due to his service in World War II. When my siblings and I were young we occasionally heard a few war stories, but rarely anything really bad. Those he kept buried deep inside himself. We were not part of the fraternity and therefore could never understand.

When my dad was getting older, we spent a few afternoons hanging out in VFW halls. We went to his usual hangout in his town two or three times, but he seemed to enjoy that less as time went on and the number of World War II vets decreased. He didn't feel like he really fit in with the Viet Nam crowd.

Once when he came to visit my family, I asked him if he'd like to go to the local VFW hall and have a beer. He jumped at the chance and was excited to find that there were a few "old guys" there (he always called other elderly people "old people," but he himself was not old, you see). Having the chance to chat it up with some fellow vets from his era made his day. Being the good son, I just sat there and listened as these "old guys" exchanged war stories and lamented about how this new generation (uh ... me!) had it easy.

It took me some time to figure it out, but they were really right. By the time I turned 18, the draft had been halted. I had plans to go to college. What I did over that next four years could in no way compare to the sacrifices that were made by guys my age in the previous generation.

My dad passed away several years ago. I always felt bad that, although he was proud of his military service, his time spent in the army left deep psychological scars that affected the rest of his life. Being from that generation, however, he was not going to whine about it, much less talk about it. That is the part of my dad that he kept hidden.

Today, in my regular work in higher education, I speak almost every day with students who have served or are currently serving in the military. Today, ladies and gentlemen, my hat is off to you. Thank you.

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Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

Great photo, nice write-up, thanks for sharing!

1:05 PM  
Blogger BamBam said...

I think your Dad would say, "that's my boy!"

Well done light.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Josie said...

Great post. I guess I've been reading you for quite a while, because I've seen that photo before. God knows how many thousands of photos I've seen on blogs, but I can clearly remember that photo of your dad. Special guy.

9:23 PM  

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