When I was growing up in the 1950’s, I sort of knew my Dad had been in World War II and my Dad’s dad in World War I. Every now and then it would come up in a conversation, but neither my dad nor my grandpa ever talked about their experiences or memories. Their service in the military was something they were proud of—but not in a showy or visible way. We saw movies like The Longest Day and as kids knew somehow our family was a part of this history but it wasn’t a topic at supper or any other time for that matter. The fact that these small red poppy collar decorations appeared in November, that my Dad wore it on his suit lapel, was one way I knew that he felt proud to be a Veteran and the red poppy was a way he showed his support for veterans.
Years later, when I first met my husband, I was aware that he’d served in the Army, but I didn’t know until much later that he’d served in the Vietnam war as a Green Beret. It was something he was reluctant to talk about and I didn’t press him. We began our lives together and raised three wonderful boys and they played with the usual boy toys, including the little green plastic army soldiers and made forts out of two-by-fours defended by multi-colored Army Ants.
When our son Matt came home one day from high school (not long after the 9-11 attack) and said he planned to enlist in the Army I was surprised and mostly disbelieving, as if this was just one of many futures he was imagining, like being a rock and roll drummer or basketball star. He never changed his mind.
Matt shipped out with the 82nd Airborne Division for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. What had been distant and in the background (this notion of military service and going to war) came hurtling to the forefront of my awareness…. as a mother and wife and daughter and granddaughter.
The call to serve in the military comes with tremendous demands and sacrifice. Service members take an oath pledging their willingness to go into harm’s way to defend the Constitution. Today there are millions of Americans who’ve taken this oath and who’ve offered the best of themselves so that every American can enjoy the freedoms (and responsibilities) that a democratically elected government “by the people and for the people” endures.
Children’s Home & Aid has chosen to demonstrate our appreciation and our respect to the Veterans who’ve sacrificed to make these contributions and who have served us selflessly. Thank you to everyone in the Children’s Home & Aid family, staff, board members, volunteers, advocates—who are veterans. Your contributions and service are essential to our country.