Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day 2008

I find myself coming in at lunch today to a quiet house, my wife is at work with our daughter and our son is at one of his friend's house. I woke this morning at my regular time and drove my sister to the airport to fly back to Idaho, she had been staying with us for the past few a days. Yesterday we attended the early service at church and drove down to see our mother's mother. Gram had been taken to the hospital last week with dizziness, but she was released Saturday. Gram is in her 90s and aside from the trip to the hospital, she is in good shape and is still sharp as a tack.

The kids were on their best behavior and I told them how much I appreciated their coming down with us to visit. Having been raised out in country away from family, I am not in the habit of visiting family members too often, and I should change that. We had a good time with Gram talking about her family and times past. We talked about my grandfather's brother who was killed in WWII. He was on the USS Grayback, a submarine sank by a Japanese plane on February 26th, 1944. Everyone in Grams's generation knew the pain of loosing someone during the war.

After our visit we drove back towards home and my sister asked if we could see our father's grave site in Winters. I had not been there in years and none of my children had ever been there. We drove into the cemetery to see many small American flags adorning the markers of those who served in the military. After a few minutes of looking, I located my father's marker. It did not have an American flag on it.

I remember the stories he told of trying to get in the service after Pearl Harbor. He was deaf in one ear and didn't have much hearing in the other. He broke a lot of young horses as a kid and he lost his hearing after being bucked off and hitting his head on rock. My father tried all three branches of the service, they only had three back then, but couldn't pass the medical exam. He lost some friends in WWII, and he would get emotional when he talked about some of them. That was rare for my father, he was not an emotional guy. He wanted to do something to help so he went to the Mare Islands ship yards and built PT boats for the Navy.

There we are were on Sunday, my sister, my two children and I looking down at my father's headstone.

Walter J Lucas
1915 - 1991
Father - Cattle Rancher

It seems pretty simple, but that would fit my father. I am sure he would have liked to have an American Flag on his marker today, but it wasn't there. He seemed to have a sense of guilt for not serving, but in my book, he did what he could.
We walked along the rows of head stones that Sunday and tried to visit every marker with a flag. World War I, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, some had only a rank with no war attached, just service, that is fitting as well. As we come to the end of the WWII generation, we will be loosing something as Americans, so many living examples of courage and service in their youth will soon become just words and numbers etched into granite or marble markers. We will be left with only the memories of their service. Memories that will fade with time, but will never be forgotten.

When I see a soldier in uniform today, man or woman, in any branch, I try to thank them for their service. I know these words don't mean much, but when I think of the courage and service this generation is showing, I can't help but want to thank them. I know there are many families who have lost loved ones in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, some of them live right here in our area. I can only imagine the loss they must feel. Today as I was working out in the barn, I kept thinking about the people serving in uniform right now , how will they be remembered? Will they be remembered as another of our greatest generations?

I think they will. When you unpack all the emotion from this war, years from now we will remember a generation who volunteered to serve their nation in one of the toughest places to fight a war, and defeated an enemy set on our destruction. Under incredible conditions, in a place half a world a way, everyday they put on their gear, check their weapons and head back out on patrol or back to sit at their check point, day after day while their families worry and pray for them back home. Thank you doesn't even seem close.

If you have the Memorial Day holiday off, and even if you don't, take a few minutes to think about this all volunteer force who have won the war and has now turned the corner and is winning the peace.

God bless them, and keep them safe.

No comments: