Today is Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service.
First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the civil war), it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action.
As many of my readers known, Texas Truth is an Army Brat. I grew up the proud son of a First Sargent in the U.S. Army.
My father did not die in a war. He passed away in his sleep in 1988 after 73 years of fruitful life. He did see action in three of America's conflicts; World War 2, Korea and Vietnam.
As I sit here writing this piece, I cannot help having thoughts and memories of my father. We battled when I was growing up. I got to be a teenager and as I progressed into manhood, we had conflicts; just like many other fathers and sons.
I guess I though I was a man and all he saw was this little punk who though he knew it all and that his Old Man didn't know anything.
Now, at 55-years-of-age, I understand what he was going through. He fought in three wars and always came home physically unscathed, but mentally, he must have been going through Hell.
His heart was his undoing and to have been such an active man; never taking crap from no one; and having his life so curtailed due to his heart condition must have been tough. Perhaps tougher than seeing combat.
I never served in the military but feel I am serving my country as a teacher. I remember once, before my father died, him telling me he could have never been a teacher. He said the first one of his student who pooped of to him would get a kick in the ass. He said he did not understand why I became a teacher. I guess that was his way of telling me was proud of my choice.
I found out when he was alive that he never graduated from high school. He dropped out when his father died, to take care of the family. That is what people did back then. What I did not find out until after he died was that his father (my grandfaeehr) had been a superintendent of schools. I find that interesting. I got a whole new respect for my father and grandfather when I learned that.
I sometimes feel like my life and my job could not be any harder. But I think back to what I know about my father and I understand I do not know what hard is.
After all he went through, he never seemed to mind or care how hard things were. He just got up every day and did the job he was suppose to do; the job he had to do; the job that was needed; being the best man he could be by taking care of his responsibilities.
So on this Memorial Day 2009, I rememeber what my father said to me shortly before he died. We were having a talk and somehow it came up about how to raise children. He said you must be tough on them so when they go out on their own, they will be able to take care of themselves. He added that when a man goes out into the real world, there will be no one to take care of himself except himself.
He further stated the world was a very hard place to live and a man must be tough to survive.
I do hope my life has turned out the way he would have liked. The best memorial to him would be how he raised me and how I turned out. That is the kind of memorial I what to befit him. I will never know if he approved of the way turned out; at least not until I meet him in the afterlife. I sincerely hope he is and was proud of me.
So, that is how I will spend Memorial Day 2009; thinking about my father and his life. How it molded me and my beliefs. I will also think about the many men and women who served with him in the defense and service of our country.
My father and all all the men and women who served and/or died for this country should never be forgotten, and they won't; at least not while me and mind are alive.
And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.