My father join the military in 1946 at the age of 17. He traveled the globe as part of the US effort to clean up after WW II. In China, he met a young woman that he fell in love with. He couldn’t speak the language and she couldn’t speak English, but it was love. Sadly, at that time, enlisted men could not marry women that they met on tour. Only officers had that privilege. Had that not been the case, I may have been half-Chinese.
He spent two years helping with the clean up efforts in Okinawa. Amongst his travels, he stopped over in Honolulu and fell in love with Hawaii. He has told me on several occasions that he can never go back because if he did, he would never leave. I went to Hawaii last year and it’s a beautiful place. Pearl Harbor is particularly haunting. I can only imagine what it looked like at that time with the devastation so fresh.
In 1947, the US Air Force was split off from the Army and my father ended his career as part of the Air Force. He spent the last of his Air Force career as a clerk typing out forms. Each form needed 13 copies and because you can only make one duplicate at a time, that meant he had to type each form seven times in addition to one original. At least he learned how to type.
I spoke to my dad last night. I said, “Dad, it’s Veterans Day.”
He replied, “So what?”
I said, “I want to thank you for your service to our country.”
He seemed stunned by my statement of thanks. I don’t think anyone has ever thanked him for serving. I think we need to remember to thank our veterans more than just once a year. Whether in war or in peace, they are willing to lay down their lives to protect us and defend our rights.
Thank you to all the vets and military personnel out there. We appreciate you.