My beloved father, who died several years ago, and this bitch used to have a Memorial Day tradition.
He was born in 1939 and cut his teeth through WWII during which time he developed a fascination with WWII films and history. Every Memorial Day I would wake up, fix a massive breakfast of yumminess and wait impatiently for my father. We’d chat and take care of some basic chores…work before fun, always (wink)…and then we would settle in front of the television set and watch movies or programs about WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
As one program blended into another my father would occasionally comment about his days in the Air Force. My father credited the Air Force with giving him a lot…discipline, strategic thinking and the confidence that comes from learning how to execute complex skills under pressure.
The Air Force was the first place where my father was given expectations and expected to meet them. Not fail, but meet and/or exceed high expectations. My father left the Air Force believing in himself for the first time. With that belief and some nice ‘thanks for your service now get yourself an education, son’ funding he struggled yet succeeded to get an education then build the life he dreamed of as a bitterly poor young man so long ago.
And that belief ran head on into the reality of American during the mid 1960’s…into the reality of prejudice and racism…into the harshness of guaranteed failure and low if not no expectations. Like so many, my father’s military service only took him so far before segregation came into play. But like so many, his service showed him that he could…should, but for the color of his skin, go farther. I have always believed that my father would never have become committed to social justice if his experience post service hadn’t been dehumanizing by comparison.
This Memorial Day my father will not be there but our tradition lives on.
A bitch shall eat a huge breakfast and watch documentaries on The History Channel. I’ll consume too much ice cream while watching A Soldier’s Story, Stalag 17, Platoon and The Bridge On The River Kwai on Turner Classic Movies.
And I will remember those lost to war and those still in combat.
There is a power in remembrance. I can’t help but think that folks wouldn’t be so quick to rush into conflict if the wounds of war ached in constant remembrance.
Lawd knows I’ve looked into the eyes of many for whom remembrance is no longer optional…no longer a simple choice of programming on a Monday afternoon.
Those in the service who can still read a bitch’s blog (wink) should know that you are ever in my prayers…
...‘til we study war no more.