Sunday, June 21, 2009

a special salute to some special dads

My dad was a Marine Corps officer. He was proud of his service and I am too.

Once when I was in high school I made some off-hand comment about joining up. The look on my Dad's face surprised me. He looked both horrified and angry. "What!" I said (as only a teen can.)

I'm not sure he ever found the right words to tell me that sending his kid off to be a Marine would probably be more than he could stand. Particularly a girl (Dad, for all his feminist politics, remains pretty old-fashioned about the role of females in the military.)

I flashed back to that very brief moment today when I was privy to a conversation between two of my twittermates. One has a son serving in the Gulf; the other a brother serving in Afghanistan-on the base that was under rocket attack yesterday.

Neither were wringing their hands and wailing. Neither was hysterical. They were in fact exhibiting great courage in difficult circumstances.

There are thousands of men and women serving our country today. Regardless of your politics, or how you feel about the war, their service deserves our respect.

And those men and women have fathers at home. Dads like mine who turned pale when their kid first said "I'm thinking of joining up." And dads, unlike mine, who didn't get let off the hook when the kid meandered off to college instead. Dads who put their kids on buses to Army training bases and recruitment centers. Dads who watch the news, or who can't bear to turn on CNN.

These dads serve too. Their service deserves our respect. They certainly have mine.

For all the dads of the men and women who chose to serve our country, thank you. Happy Father's Day.

30 comments:

Joanna said...

Wow, J--I actually got choked up reading this.

Hear, hear!

Deb Vlock said...

I loved reading this. What a beautiful sentiment.

David Edgerley Gates said...

Thank you for this. My dad served in the Navy in WWII, the North Atlantic. I never imagined what his anxieties were when I enlisted in the USAF in '64 (note date), but years later, after his death, I found a letter he'd written to one of his brothers, where he said he felt like old, blind Tennyson: bereft. God bless 'em all.

Cathy in AK said...

My dad was a Marine who never particularly encouraged nor discouraged any of his kids regarding military service, but I think it would have just about killed him to have us experience what he did during the Korean War. Proud of us for serving, sure; supportive, you bet; but scared spitless.

Thanks for this, Janet. And thanks to all those dads out there.

Jake Needham said...

I already knew you were a good lady, of course, but reading this makes me particularly proud to be your friend.

Beth said...

Well said. I agree completely. Here's a special salute to everyone in the military and a big THANK YOU.

Sarah said...

Amen!

Mira said...

Thank you. Beautifully and movingly said.

A.S. King said...

Rock on Janet Reid.

PammyD said...

Nice one, Janet.

My dad served in WWII. He passed on a number of years back. His grandson, my nephew is now in Iraq. I'm sure my dad would be proud.

Thanks for honoring our brave troops.

Heidi said...

Amen.

I came from a line of Army officers, and when I declared I was going ROTC, my dad just about had a heart attack.

I married into it, though, and my husband, a first Gulf War veteran, can't imagine the possibility of our our ten year old son joining.

But if he does decide to join up someday, I'm sure we'll burst with pride.

Nat said...

Beautiful. Thanks.

Kirstin Cronn-Mills said...

What I want to write is "amen." I hope that's not too hokey. Very well said. Thank you.

Redwing said...

I'm not a Dad, but I am a veteran. Great post. Thank you.

I'm also a school teacher and often find myself in the position of giving advice to 17-18 year old kids wanting to join up.

I was in the Navy, on a submarine. I was hurried out to sea as Boris Yeltsin and friends finished off the Soviet Union. I completely missed the Clarence Thomas hearings and Ross Perot's run for President. There are weird three month gaps in my personal cultural history...

I got lucky; I lived through my experience. The GI Bill helped me through college and the VA mortgage is helping me buy my house, even as I write this.

I always encourage the kids to join the Coast Guard. Save lives. Fight bad guys like drug smugglers, etc...

Great post. Thank you, again.

Diana said...

What an incredibly moving post. I hope you don't mind my linking to it from facebook so my other friends will see it.

Lynne Kelly Hoenig said...

Fabulous post.
My brother was a base commander in Afghanistan until he got to come home a couple of months ago. I would have been scared to death yesterday if he were still there.
My nephew recently left the Coast Guard Academy because the Coast Guard wasn't "exciting enough." Plans to join the Army instead. Plenty of excitement there, I'm sure, but quite scary for his family.

Susan at Stony River said...

Such a beautiful post.
I remember when my classmates and cousins signed up, and while I was impressed I thought they were a bit nuts. Now at my age my sisters and friends have *kids* signing up, and yes, that's a very different thing.

Emily Cross said...

a beautiful post!

Jason Crawford said...

Great post! I totally agree that honoring the men and women who serve this is an act that transcends politics.

laughingwolf said...

as a dad of three, i thank you and extend best wishes to all the dads, no matter where or who they are...

Chris Eldin said...

Beautifully written! A touching tribute to fathers everywhere...

Eric said...

This is a great post. I am a father who served, and yet I do not want my sons to serve. That may sound hypocritical, but I don't feel the government supports our troops as well as the citizens do. I would be proud as ever if my sons were in the military, but I would never want them to deal with the misfortunes and troubles some of my military brethren are dealing with these days. It's a disconcerting feeling that I think about all the time as my sons grow closer to manhood. Don't get me wrong. Every individual who has or is currently serving in the military has my complete respect. I just wish our leaders shared my sentiments and took better care of these fine individuals.

DebraLSchubert said...

My dad completed basic training and was in the army during the Berlin crisis. Fortunately, he was never called to active duty. Kudos to you for this post and for honoring your dad and all dads who serve, have served, or who have supported their children who've chosen to serve.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Someone from my family has been in each of America's wars since King Philip's War.

Wars make me sad. An uncle was shot dead on picket duty outside Atlanta ten days before his enlistment was up. I wasn't even a thought in someone's mind when he died, but I've read the family papers and cried along with my distant grandmother as she wrote of her brother's death.

One distant grandfather, a little man, was injured while serving in the infantry. He was medically discharged. In three months, hiding the extent of his injury, he joined the Cavalry.

These fathers of past generations were with Washington at Trenton, with Paton in France, with Roosevelt in Cuba, and on the frontier. Sometimes they were on both sides of an issue.

In the nations from which they came, they fought to preserve their beliefs and families. Again they often fought on both sides of an issue, and then married each other's daughters afterward. Such a fickle family!

Bits of a poem written by a soldier:

Give praise to the Brave Volunteers,
For ever in battle's fierce strife,
With valor and might
They struck for the Right,
Giving freely of blood and life.
...

Here are tears for the Brave Volunteers,
For their many true heroes and brave,
Who have passed to their rest
In the lad of the blest
Through the portals of death and the grave.

It’s not great poetry, not even above average, but it is heart-felt.

I've been posting photos of ancestors and family and other interesting historical photos on my blog. Looking at these old photos has made me re-think bits of my own emotions and beliefs. I puzzle through their thoughts, wondering what I would have done in their place.

Visit the photos if you wish:
Wardancingpixie.blogspot.com

careann said...

Thank you for this acknowledgement of these special Dads. During WWII my father's service time was spent in Canada, supervising the building of a veterans' hospital in Toronto. (He was a masonry contractor.) If such men didn't actively fight in the trenches their service wasn't considered quite as significant as those who did, and I've always felt that was wrong. There are many forms of service.

Elissa M said...

"They also serve who only stand and wait"

Though Milton was writing about his own blindness, this line is often used in reference to military families.

My own father had 30 years of active duty and saw action in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He got to "stand and wait" for my brother during the Gulf War and for his son-in-law in Iraq.

The only thing I want to add to your lovely post is that sometimes Dads aren't "let off the hook" by their children's further education. Both my husband and brother went to college before enlisting.

Thank you for reminding me how grateful I am for my father (and yes, I did call and wish him a Happy Father's Day).

Southern Writer said...

My dear friend James has been serving in Afghanistan for eight years. I not only admire his courage and bravery, but also that of his wife and children who have endured so much time without him, and who must panic every time they hear news of attacks there. God, I wish the world wasn't such a mess.

jnantz said...

What a beautiful tribute, both to your father, to the thousands serving our country, and to all of the moms, dads, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, and extended family to those who do. Just wonderful stuff. Well done.

Frances Davis said...

My son served seven months in Iraq as a Special Ops Marine. The phone would ring at 3am and he would be on the other end asking, "What'cha doing?", as if the time difference didn't exist.

I would listen to my husband talk to him, the father talking to his son with missile fire in the background. Once he asked my son if he was in a safe place. My son answered, "Dad, there are no safe places here." Often they talked of things that I knew would never be repeated. I also knew there were things in my son's heart and mind that would never be whispered to anyone. As he told my husband once after he returned, "Dad, you don't want to know."

I thank the men and women who have and do now serve, and those families who wait for them to return. I especially thank those who wait, and will ever wait because their loved one will not return.

Wendy said...

Semper fi! :) My dad was a Marine, too. Their dedication and sacrifice are pretty amazing, and their families as well.

I missed posting this comment on Father's Day, but consider it just in time for Independence Day!