Most young folks confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. They seem to think of the days as interchangeable, and aren’t aware of the distinction that Memorial Day, which used to be called “Decoration Day” – a day to decorate the graves of dead soldiers – is a day set aside to honor those who gave their life for their country. Veterans Day, of course, is to honor all our men and women in uniform.
The two young men pictured at the top of this post – my dad, Bill, on the left; my wife Toni’s dad, Mario, on the left – did not give their lives for their nation, thank God. Both saw plenty of combat in WW2; both had plenty of enemy rounds fired at them. My dad was combat infantry, shot at countless times by Nazi soldiers; Toni’s dad crewed a B-29 in the Army Air Force, and many times came back from a mission with plenty of bullet-holes in the huge bomber.
They lost a lot of friends and comrades in the war, and both of them instilled in their children a solemn understanding and appreciation for Memorial Day. Toni and I have passed this understanding and appreciation along to our children. Just as Toni and I have friends who died in the Viet Nam war, our kids have friends who have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
To all those who gave their lives for their nation, thank you, and God Bless.
My family was fortunate to have all its veterans return from service. For Toni’s dad, it was “home alive in ‘45”; for my dad, it was ’46, as he was sent to Japan with the Army of Occupation after V-J Day.
Dad’s younger brother John, my Uncle Jack, seen here, did not see combat in WW2; the war was over when he put on the uniform, and he was a spy (I prefer that term to “intelligence operative”) during what came to be known as the Cold War. Because of the nature of his work, Uncle Jack never talked too much about it.
My Aunt Virginia, my mother’s sister, seen here, volunteered for service during WW2. Her she is in her WAVES uniform (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service), attached to the U.S. Navy as a Pharmacist’s Mate during the war, with the rank of PO2C - Petty Officer Second Class. She said to her four sisters “somebody from this family should join the service, and it’s going to be me.”
So excuse me if I violate the terms of the definition of Memorial Day and take time to remember some of my family members who served and came home alive. I have plenty of friends who served and did not come home alive, and they are in my thoughts today, as well.
As the saying goes, “All gave some; some gave all.” God rest those who gave all. Today, and every day, we honor you.