Tag Archives: father

Veterans’ Day 11/11/17

ENGLAND

Today is #veteransday . My father was a veteran of #WWII. Handsome devil, wasn’t he? He was a paratrooper who jumped over Normandy, Nijmegen, and The Bulge. Dad fought against some “very fine people” (if you get my meaning) He returned from the war with what we now believe was a form of PTSD. He had bad dreams and bad memories for years and never wanted to discuss any aspect of his experience during the war unless he was drunk. He did, however, before he died, write down many of his experiences and I have them and my sister has copies. Dad returned from the war a functional alcoholic. He apparently thought alcohol would dull the bad memories but instead, it amplified the feelings. Dad worked a day job and saved his heavy drinking for the weekends and holidays. Mom and my sisters and I HATED Christmas Eve. We also hated Saturdays – every one of them. We were ok with Christmas Day and Sundays because that’s when Dad would spend the day sobering up. He was verbally and emotionally abusive when he was drunk, but never physically abusive, that I can remember – of we three sisters, I lived with it the longest. There was only one time that I was afraid he was going to hit Mom. So I spent the better part of my growing up worrying that he would hurt Mom. Dad never made use of any VA program to help him, because in all honesty, the VA never thought about PTSD as being a huge issue until Dad was in his 80’s. So, just from my story here, perhaps you can see what a horrible thing war is. It is so easy for those of us who have never fought in a war to bandy about the lives of men and women in the armed services as if we were playing a checkers game or something. For those people who return from any war or conflict, they *are* ultimately changed. If you happen to meet a veteran, please thank him or her for their service, because protecting our country and allowing us the rights we have right now (and that includes the right to kneel or stand), comes at a high price.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under family, Portraits, Veteran's Day, World War II, WWII

Honoring My Photographer Father on Father’s Day

JohnLatson_The Photographer Himself

In honor of Father’s Day, which we celebrate here in the U.S.  I wrote an article about my photographer father and it was published in the National Parks Traveler.  Click on the photo if you are interested in reading the article.

 

 

 

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Filed under family, Father's Day, Life, love, National Parks Traveler, Photography

Remembrance

ENGLAND

My father during his paratrooper training in England

Every Memorial Day, I look at photographs of my father when he was a very young man in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was quite the looker (as was my mother; I get my good looks from them both, you know).

I understand that Memorial Day is a day of remembering those who died during all of the wars, and my father returned from WW II alive.  Nonetheless, now that he is dead, I seem to think of him more often during this day than during Veteran’s Day.

Dad signed up for service and was assigned to the tank division. He decided this was not exciting enough for him, so he became a paratrooper with the 508th Parachute Infantry of the 82nd Airborne Division (I don’t know which of these comes first, so forgive me here). He trained in England and Ireland; so it was a little more special for me to travel to Ireland back in 2011 on an organized photo tour, because I knew I was visiting a place that Dad thought was beautiful.

Dad jumped over Normandy on D-Day (June 6, 1944), and fought during Operation Market Garden (September 1944) as well as at the Battle of the Bulge (Dec 16, 1944). Of all the paratroopers who jumped during those battles, Dad was one of the very few to return alive each time.

When Dad returned from the war, he was a changed man. He drank – too much, and I’m pretty sure he suffered from a form of PTSD; I don’t even know if the doctors of that time knew what PTSD was, but they certainly never discussed it. So of course, it went untreated in Dad as well as so many other returning veterans.

Dad never talked about the war…unless he was drunk…and it always ended in tears. What Mom and Granny (Dad’s Mom) and the rest of us learned from these times was that those experiences were horrific, as are all experiences dealing with war and battle. Oh, Dad had some really neat stories to share, too, and he didn’t seem to mind talking about those times. My favorite is the one he recounted of Christmas Eve in Belgium.

My relationship with my father was definitely complicated….well, maybe not. We didn’t get along and we didn’t see eye-to-eye about much, if anything….except photography. I hated his drinking and it scared me. I don’t drink much myself and I think it’s because of this….along with the arthritis medicine I take. Nonetheless, Dad and I had a bond with our photography. And I find it ironic that I am more like my father than I ever realized. I have a temper that constantly needs the edges smoothed. I’m not always a patient person, although as I get older, that seems to be less of an issue. Just like Dad, I have a love for adventure and travel and photography.

So many people don’t understand the significance of remembering Memorial Day any longer (although with all the returning veterans from the current wars, that might be changing a little). As one of the Facebook photos I saw this morning noted: Memorial Day is not just a day to have a bbq (although that’s not a bad thing, if you are with friends and family).

Someday, I am going to get to Normandy. I want to see where Dad fought. I want to take my camera with me. I want to stand and listen to the waves hit the beach. I want to walk along the shoreline. I almost made it there in 2011 for an organized photo tour except that tour was cancelled and I instead traveled to Ireland. I’ll get there, though. I’m planning to travel to Paris in 2015 and maybe I’ll take a detour for a day or two.

I think of Dad now and then, but especially during Memorial Day – moreso than even Father’s Day (for reasons written above). Memorial Day is not just about WWII and all those who died during that time; it’s about all the wars that are fought on our behalf, and all those men and women who did not return to their friends and families, so that we may continue to live our lives as we so choose. I don’t like war, but it seems to be a part of our human genome. Too bad #ArcticBiosystems #Helix couldn’t have figured out how to remove that particular item from our DNA.

So, here’s to another year of remembering Dad.

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Filed under Life, Memorial Day

Veteran’s Day – Remembering Dad

Today is Friday – and Veteran’s Day.  I had completely forgotten about it during the day, because while working in a cubicle (euphemistically termed “workstation”) and fighting a headache from the odor of an employee’s over-strong perfume wafting to me from all the way at the other end of the floor (I’m not a huge fan of this “open floor plan” thing), it’s difficult to focus on much of anything else except what is on my computer screen in front of me.  Then, I got home and turned on the television to watch an old war movie on Turner Movie Channel.  That’s when I remembered it was Veteran’s Day.  After I ate, I signed into Flickr and noticed a number of my contacts posting old photos of their family members who had served in the armed forces.  Made me think of Dad.  Which in turn, made me think of all those old photos of him and Mom that I scanned onto disc some 4-5 years ago.  So, I rifled through the photo CDs and found some photos of Dad during his war years.

This is Dad during his time in England, training for the jump over Normandy.  When he first joined the armed forces, he was in the tank division.  He switched over to becoming a paratrooper because the tank division “wasn’t exciting enough”.  He was in the 82nd Airborne Division of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment.  In addition to Normandy, he jumped during Operation Market Garden in Holland, and at the Battle of the Bulge.

Photos of Mom and Dad during his tank division days.  They were quite the lookers, weren’t they?

Dad hardly ever spoke of his war experiences unless he was really drunk.  The memories were horrible and the stories awful to tell and listen to.  And yet, it’s good for those of us who are fat and happy and working in front of our computers to hear this kind of thing, just so we are reminded of the terrible human toll war takes.

I never really got along well with Dad.  But I sure am proud of his duty to America and America’s people.

This short post is my salute to my father, who passed away in 2010 at age 86, and to all those veterans then and now, who fought to keep America free and democratic and safe so that we may continue to be fat and happy and working in front of our computers, not having to grapple with the horrors and toils of war that other people in other countries must suffer through.

Thank you very very much.

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