It is an unseasonably warm and windy day here in central Missouri. The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are knocking at our doors. But this day stands as an occasion to slow things down--to pause and reflect. To give thanks and due respect. Today I take this brief moment and this tiny splinter of cyberspace to celebrate my husband as a Vietnam War veteran and to honor the memory of my dad, who would have been ninety-one years old today.
This is the man my grandkids call "Pa-pa," my husband of nearly thirty-five years. Here, you see him in the uniform he wears when he serves on our local VFW firing squad to honor deceased veterans at the grave site. It is a service he performs out of selflessness, respect, and a genuine empathy with those who served their country.
Pa-pa himself was drafted into the U.S. Army, serving from 1966-68. In that last year (which he always refers to as "eleven months and twenty-five days"), he was with the First Air Cavalry. He followed in the footsteps of his own father, who was awarded a Purple Heart in World War II. My children and grandchildren inherit a rich background of service to these United States.
My dad, shown above with Sooby in 2010, was not able to serve in the military, but was born on Nov. 11. Sooby and Pooh remember him, but Bootsie was only a year old when he passed away four years ago, and Beenie, Zoomie, and Heero weren't yet born. Dad knew Beenie was coming, but never got to meet him. He bore the burdens of his terminal disease stoically and selflessly, and was, in his own way, a different kind of hero.
Mom is OK today, Dad. I had lunch with her, and we duly noted your birthday. She has demonstrated some bravery herself these past four years. You would be proud. As for me, I am proud, honored, and blessed beyond measure to have shared a family with both of these men that I love dearly.
Today is Nov. 11. Happy Veterans' Day, Pa-pa, and Happy Birthday, Dad.