Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Happy Veterans Day!

Being a Navy brat for 30 years it's hard not to think of Dad on a day like this. It's one of those days when you have a twinge of regret about not saying all those things that you always meant to say but never did like "I'm really proud of you and your immaculate military service". It's one of those days when you think and wonder about all those questions you meant to ask your Dad about his military service, like...

Dad, why are you "packing heat" in this photo?
Who taught you to use a gun?

You were a kid in this photo - would you have REALLY used it?

Was this in Korea?


Why were all of our family trips at military-related places?

As a kid I saw more submarines, ships, war museums, battlegrounds and forts than most people see in a lifetime! Not that I'm complaining. As an adult I still love to visit these places but back then I could not care less about going to see another war ship! A ship is a ship and we were dragged from one to the other. Look at our faces in these photos - we look thrilled!

Now that those days are long gone and all the adults in the photographs have passed away I would love the opportunity to go back in time so I could beg to visit another battleship just to have a few more moments with my parents and grandparents.

As a teenager I was VERY rebellious and if I was told I could not do something I did it anyway. I didn't care about anyone but myself and I really put my parents through hell. I went through a small anti-patriotic stage around the 10th grade where I wanted to just get out of the United States because I thought it was the most screwed up place on Earth. What the hell did I know?

I remember visiting family in Illinois and while there we went to my cousins band recital. I remember when they played the National Anthem I decided (being the rebel that I was) NOT to stand. My Father looked down at me and said "Stand up" and I looked back at him and said "No!" Again, he said "Pamela Anne, stand up!" I always knew that if my parent's whipped out the "Pamela Anne" that I was in trouble! I will never forget the look of hurt, disgust and sadness that crossed my Father's face when I didn't stand. He was a military man and the son of a military man who was also a son of a military man. I sat there feeling horrible, but I had already made my decision to be an ass. My whole family witnessed it, but never discussed it. I'm sure they never brought it up to my Father and my Father never questioned me about it and it was never discussed again. I regret that I never apologized about it.

Times, of course, have changed and I've matured greatly. If I hear the National Anthem (especially when it's done right!) I always become emotional because it always reminds me of that single event in my life and my Fathers disappointment in me, and also because I really do love my country tremendously. Baseball games are a real bitch sometimes.

Being a military brat is something that you don't really think about while living it. It doesn't dawn on you until you are an adult that there are actually kids who live in one place their entire lives! It's unimaginable! It was just the way we lived and no one really talked about it in our family. We were just the family that lived away from Dad's hometown. My paternal grandparents would come visit every year wherever we lived (which might explain all the military-type vacations!) but we never knew how proud my family was of my Dad.

I found this picture of my cousin, Denise, when going through Mom's photos. She was dressed up as "Sailor Denise" for my Dad. Cute!

One of the most defining moments about how my Grandfather felt about my Dad's military service was actually at my Father's funeral. It was just before the service was to begin. The immediate family was given a private moment with "Dad" and then escorted to the chapel that was adjacent to the visitation room. My Mom and sisters said their goodbye's and moved on leaving me alone in the room with my Grandfather and his wife Mil. I said my goodbye and went to walk out of the room but stopped at the door to wait for Grandpa. When I turned around I saw my Grandfather standing alone, by the side of my Dad's coffin with his head bowed. After a moment he stood erect, at full military attention and gave my Father a full salute and said "Carry on, Son!"

I have no idea what happened in the moments after I witnessed that and I will never forget this moment for as long as I live.

I would love to have my Dad and Grandpa back to hear their stories. I wish I had paid more attention on days like this...

Can you imagine the good times and story telling that happened on this night?

I am so honored to be the daughter, Granddaughter and Great Granddaughter of wonderful military men. I will forever remain proud and grateful for their service.


bhoward740 said...

Well said. Love you~Becky

Clytie said...

OMG you made me cry. Like Becky wrote - "well said".

"Lest We Forget"

Denise said...

Wow beautiful....thanks for posting that picture of me. I was so proud of it and I'm glad your parents kept it all of these years.

Pamela said...

Of course they kept it, Denise! Don't forget that we were the family that had hundreds and hundreds of photos of the whole family!! :)