Wednesday, April 30, 2008
My dad will be 83 years old this year. He grew up in a very different time. A time that was not at all like the one in which my children are growing up. It was simpler way of life in which the hustle and bustle of everyday living included picking vegetables out of your own garden, wringing a chicken's neck and plucking the feathers so that your family could have a good chicken dinner (obviously prepared at home). Clothes were washed in a heavy wash pot and hung on the line to dry.
They had no computers, cell phones (phones, for that matter), tvs, air conditioning. Instead of these things, they had self-motivation, responsibility, hard work before play, honor toward family and pride in their country. There were no temper-tantrums when asked to do something they didn't want to do. You did what you were supposed to do and didn't expect a treat for doing it.
It is in this light that I think of my dad, having just turned 18 years old and being drafted into the United States Army. Just a boy. His mother's only boy. Drafted, and quickly trained and sent overseas, to several places, but Belgium, mostly. The boy that would be my father not only went overseas, but was engaged in heavy , front lines battle...most notably, the Battle of the Bulge.>
He and his buddies spent a lot of time in the freezing cold, and a lot of time in wet foxholes. Eventually, my dad's feet were frozen and he was taken to a hospital. Thank goodness for that because his group was soon surrounded and many of those left were killed or taken as prisoners of war. Some others lost legs due to having feet and legs frozen, but my dad was blessed and soon recovered.
During this time, the Army lost track of my father. My grandparents didn't hear from him for two months. I can't imagine the anguish they must have felt, not knowing where he was or if he was okay. They eventually received a letter from him--from a hospital in London. And the war ended soon after. My father came home and began his life, a life of hard work, responsibility and raising three daughters with his wife of 61 years and counting.
Two weeks ago, my father got to travel to Washington D.C. for the day with a plane full of other World War II veterans and accompanying nurses. They visited the memorial, chatted with Bob Dole, and got the royal treatment, courtesy of Honor Air. My dad was chosen to help lay a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I understand that it was really nice. But the topper was when the vets came home to an airport full of family, friends, and other vets...all to honor them. Each vet was escorted....one at a time....down the escalator. The band played loudly and the crowd cheered and clapped wildly. My dad, a man who never sought praise for himself, tipped his hat and smiled. It was a great day.
Already at 18, my dad had what it took to be responsible and full of honor. Whatever it took to bring an 18 year boy to that point, I pray that IT is in ME, and I hope that I can instill IT in my own children.
Posted by mamatutwo at 12:13 PM