Thursday, May 27, 2004

Remembering Dad

With Memorial Day coming up, I've been thinking about my Dad's generation of World War II veterans. They fought a different type of war, one that would be considered "justifiable" by a true definition (not Diane Knipper's). The United States did not enter into this war until we were attacked.

Whether we should have waited so long to enter it was a subject of disagreement (many still called it "Mr. Roosevelt's war"), but there was no question -- we were not the aggressors.

Dad graduated from high school in the summer of '41, six months before Pearl Harbor, and joined the Navy. He did this to accomplish two goals: The first was to get out of Podunk, and the second was to get into a branch of service to his liking, because he knew war was coming and bringing with it the draft.

Dad ended up a medical corpsman. He served in the South Pacific for a good chunk of the war, and was on the island of Midway during the Battle of Midway.

"We were scared shitless," he told me.

He saw a lot of death that he never said much about. Toward the end of the war, he got his dream, though -- he was approved for flight school. Dad completed flight training, became a Navy pilot, and stayed in to make a career out of it.

Maybe some of Dad's wariness about war came out of his Pacific experiences. He was unquestioning about the need to go to war for self-defense, but he never considered it something to go into blindly. He always questioned politicians' motives.

Although he was a lifelong Republican, he was leery of the ultra-right and did not support Reagan's candidacy. He's not around anymore for me to ask what he would think of the current situation and current administration, but remembering his distrust of the military/industrial complex, I'm pretty sure what he would say.

I miss all the conversations we used to have.

Here's thinking of you, Dad.

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