My Dad flew aboard Army Air Corps bombers in the Pacific for three and a half years during WWII. He never told us about any of it. He wouldn't talk about his scars or his medals. After he died in 1989, we found a few mementos among his effects and were able to learn about some of his experiences. On one occasion, his plane was shot up by enemy fighters and crash-landed after limping back to base - he was thrown from the plane and severely injured his jaw, eventually losing all of his teeth. On a later mission, he was wounded in the shoulder by anti-aircraft fire. Each time, his wounds were treated and he returned to active duty. Malaria haunted him for decades.
I really appreciated the recent HBO series, The Pacific, for its portrayal of certain aspects of that terrible time.
Three uncles and two aunts also served in that war - one survived the attack on Pearl Harbor - and to my grandparents' great relief, they all came home. My older brother served in Europe during the Cold War, and my younger brother in Viet Nam. My wife's father, who I came to love and respect as much as my own, was lucky to survive after his ship was torpedoed and sank during the Korean war. Two of my wife's brothers also served during Viet Nam.
I narrate this to show how close my family came to losing someone during all those wars. It's easy to write about it from my perspective - I never served, I never had to experience that gut-wrenching fear and dread...
I wrote out a rough draft of a thought-piece about all that and what today means to me... After dinner, I detoured to my Google Reader before coming back here to start polishing. I came across this wonderful post by Emily that says everything I'd hoped to say and more. So, I deleted the rest of my version in exchange for this link to hers: The Stark Raving Cello Blog - Memorial Day
Thank you, Emily! I couldn't have said it better.