Here it is, Memorial day. I bought my poppy from a vet. I watched a John Wayne war movie. What next? Last night Kim, my friend Steve and I went to the Scnitzle Platz to see Dad play some German music with a few French tunes thrown in...
Over my right shoulder was a huge old smoker that wasn't in use anymore with a picture of the Bismark proudly hanging from it. The Chef has some connection to that battleship and loves to tell the story of how it was sunk... "The Allies didn't sink her, the crew scuttled it." OK, take pride but of all the places to hang the picture, on an oven? Am I the only one that finds that a wee bit unnerving? I watched my father perform and thought about all he's been through in his 83 years here. From my Grandmother dragging him and his accordion on the streetcars of Chicago to take lessons when he was a boy to his service in the navy. He played the club circuit from Iowa to Ohio, developing a 60 year reputation for music and comedy that is still going strong to this day.
Why do I say this? I took a trip with Dad to Washington DC so we could honor the war dead of his generation. It was surreal to be standing at the WWII memorial with one of the funniest men I know and have humor, one of Dad's greatest strengths, no where to be found. I listened to his stories and admired what he did as a 18 boy. Heck at 18 I still didn't have tying my shoes quite down yet.
In WWII alone the figure stands around 415,000 dead. To say "thank you" just isn't enough to say to all the war dead in America's military history. When you see a memorial don't just look at it as a statue. Honor the men and women and the stories it represents.