Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank You to Veterans

The September after my dad died, I accompanied my mom to a Reunion of my dad's shipmates (the WWII destroyer, U.S.S. Fraser, DD-607). Like many veterans of WWII, my dad didn't talk much about his experiences, so this was my chance to discover more of what made my dad the man he was. He was one of the "babies"--not quite 19 when he was assigned--and he had been somewhat spoiled and pampered before entering the Navy. He was a gunner's mate, in charge of handing up ammunition from the hold to the gun operators. The work was physically hard, especially in the hot, humid climate of the Pacific.

Later, the Fraser did "clean up" in the Philippines and in Japan (specifically in Yokohama) before being decommissioned in the Boston Naval Yard.

The men my dad served with went back home and became farmers or lawyers or businessmen or blue-collar workers like my dad. One returned to his medical practice. They returned to their wives or married and raised families.

The women I met were pretty interesting as well. Long before my generation decided women needed "liberating," these women were working the family farm, managing the family business, raising kids during a time of rationing (two pairs of shoes per person per year!), and generally doing the work necessary to "keep the home fires burning." They are survivors--and are funny, intelligent, and engaged in life and current events. They are also self-effacing, claiming that what they did was unexceptional and boring. They just lived ordinary lives during extraordinary times.

To me, they are every bit the heroes as their husbands and brothers were.

So, to all Veterans, to all Active Military, and to their families: Thank you, especially for your willingness to fight for the ideals of America even when many seem to doubt them.

And, props to Hubs, a Vietnam-Era Marine. Hoo-rah!