Missing My Veteran

If you could choose only one utensil to carry in your pack as you trudged through the jungles of New Guinea, not on a grand hiking adventure, but fighting a war in your mid-20s, what would it be?  Daddy always said take a spoon — good for scooping food out of ready made pouches or quenching thirst, sip by sip, but also good for digging and scraping .  He didn’t talk much about his years fighting in WWII.  He came home with a Purple Heart and married the love of his life, made lots of babies and lived a good long life providing for his family.  The last time I saw him, he lay in a hospital bed at home.  My mom and I were at his side.  I was getting ready to fly back to Florida.  He looked at his wife of 67 years and said, “This is the last time I will see Lori.”  I grabbed his hand and shook my head.  “No daddy, I’ll see you in heaven.”

I’m sorry, Daddy, that I joined the Navy without telling you first.  I’m sorry I asked for an assignment in Japan.  You fought the Japanese and certainly didn’t like the fact that I would be in that country for two years.  You called them “those damn Japs.”  I did not know your pain.  I never had to walk in your boots.  I served in peace time, and when people say “Thank you for your service” on Veteran’s Day, I channel the good thoughts to you and those who marched alongside you, knowing in my heart I am undeserving in comparison.

To all those who served our country, and to all who continue to do so, thank you.  Thank you for our freedom, and may we honor you always by loving this land and protecting it with all our strength.  It wasn’t until I started writing this that I realized something I should have figured out years ago.  Some people see signs from those who left us — things like cardinals and butterflies and even boat anchors.  I see spoons — the antique silver ones.  Thank you, Daddy. Happy Veterans’ Day 2020.