Monday, May 25, 2009

A Day of Remembrance

A Day of Remembrance

We are simultaneously mournful and lucky that men and women in the service chose defending our liberties and values in conflicts from the French and Indian War to Iraq and Afghanistan, whether we agree with the conflicts or not. Some died in the conflicts; others died years later. My grandmother, a genial member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, always described Memorial Day as Decoration Day. The idea was to decorate graves of veterans and war dead.

We should honor the service of those who wear America’s uniform now or who have worn it in the past. My father and my favorite University of Wisconsin Economics professor served abroad during the Korean War but a former UW football player was at the Chosin Reservoir and was lucky to make it back. I am fortunate to know people who served during World War II who are still doing OK. One flew with the Flying Tigers before Pearl Harbor and flew from American carriers after. One was a Medic with the Seabees in the Pacific. One drove landing craft at the bloody battles to dislodge Japanese troops from Attu and Kiska in the Aleutian Islands.

In 2002, I met a man who was making copies of his 1942 high school yearbook. There were 34 boys in his high school senior class. They all enlisted. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy. The other 33 enlisted in the U.S. Army and were all killed in Italy.

Most know that I have a child in the U.S. Navy on an attack submarine at Pearl Harbor. He is far safer than my friends who currently serve in Iraq and Afghanistan but there is always an element of danger when people don the uniform. Ask the people entombed on the USS Arizona if they felt safe until the unexpected attack on December 7, 1941.

No comments: