Memorial Day

Memorial Day was initially established as a day to remember those who fell in combat, giving their all that we and others may be free and able to live, because without freedom, we are not fully alive. Memorial Day has also become a day to remember our ancestors and to honor them and remember the things that they did in their lives. This is what I grew up doing with my grandmother and is probably why I feel so connected to my ancestors. I am adding one more thing, however, that maybe should be reserved for Veterans Day, but today I would also like to pay tribute to my father who lived and helped others live through a battle in the Philippines during WWII.  I grew up listening to his stories, shuddering when he would tell about the time he was placed in the front of the line while turning the corner at Orion Pass. They had just witnessed the destruction of the platoon ahead of them who had already tried to move forward, with two of his buddies already having died. This lead the first scout to “turn yellow” so my dad was told to come “front and center.” As he was walking along he started thinking about home and wondering if anyone would miss him if he died. His mother was a widow of several years and he knew she would miss him as well as his sister and brothers, but he wasn’t sure who else would really care. He would tell us how his life quickly passed by him and he relived everything that he had ever accomplished. He thought of his desire to get married and rear a family of his own and do something worth being remembered. He then began to think of how to survive and remembered how his brothers used him as a punching bag. He told us that they would hit his arm, telling him that it would toughen him up. He didn’t appreciate this very much, but at the time it seemed like if a bullet were going to hit him, this muscle might be the strongest so he instinctively turned sideways to have his arm face the enemy. At that instant a bullet hit the tank, just barely missing his head. The movement had saved his life. It turned out that he was in a better position than he had been and even though he got wounded in this skirmish, he was a lot better off than the person he had changed places with. He also was able to help get others back to safety and lived through the experience, receiving both a purple heart and a bronze star because of “service rendered beyond the call of duty.” As a child I couldn’t help but be so grateful that his life was spared and he was able to come home and marry my mother so I could be born into my family. So, today, thanks Dad, for doing your duty, helping others, and also living in such a way that you definitely will be remembered when you’re gone for all the wonderful ways you have helped people all around the world. You’re amazing.

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