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.
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.