Monday Smiles – Memorial Day 2010

In 1942, my father quit high school and joined the Army Air Corps, in spite of having a scholarship to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the fine engineering school in Troy, New York.  It was a story he repeated many times with regret … I thought I was a big shot, was the only explanation he ever gave.   I know enough about his father, Arthur, to think that my Dad just needed to get away and that the Army was the quickest out.   In a time when going off to war was portrayed as heroic, it probably didn’t seem like a terrible option compared to dealing with his father.  My parents were married while he was on leave, then moved to Caspar, Wyoming while he went through basic training.   I was apparently conceived there.   When Dad was shipped to Europe to serve a maintenance supervisor for Liberator bombers, my mother moved back into her Mom’s house, where I was born.  My father didn’t talk much about his wartime experiences … I only have snippets of stories in my recall: Dad sea sick on a troop carrier in high seas; cockroaches as big as turtles on the base in Italy; bombers coming back from a mission with the skin shot off most of the fuselage.

Several years ago, when Dad was in assisted living, his money was running out.   We discovered a little-known Veteran’s benefit called Aid and Attendance that gave him a substantial benefit toward his rent … he balked at the idea at first, thinking it was welfare, but when we told him it was a benefit for military service, he cried.    My Dad’s not a crier … it says something powerful about the impact of his military experience on his psyche.   Before my sister went to visit him this weekend, she typed up a copy of his military record (below) and gave it to some of the staff and my Dad’s friends at the home.   My sister told Dad that the staff was pretty impressed with his record.   I am, too, he said, I just can’t remember most of it.    Remember or not, it was a nice Memorial Day tribute to his service.

Things have changed since my father’s service.    Movies like Saving Private Ryan and Platoon have replaced the John Wayne images of gung-ho heroes charging into battle with more realistic scenes of ordinary young men struggling to do their duty amid the horrors of war.   Fighting in Iran and Afghanistan seems to many less connected to the events of nine-eleven than fighting against the Axis after Pearl Harbor.   We’ve sent our soldiers to places like Korea or Vietnam and wondered what they were dying for.   Are they really dying to keep us free?    Over the years, I’ve been a Dove … during Vietnam… and a Hawk … after nine-eleven … but most of the time I fall somewhere in between.   I believe we need to know that war is horrible not heroic while remembering that there is genuine evil in the world.    This country isn’t perfect but it’s far better than any alternative and if we want to keep it that way, we will sometimes send our youth into war.    Some will be heroes but most will just do their duty and hope to stay alive.   Some will die to keep us free and some will die in what turns out to be a mistake.   But collectively, our soldiers preserve this wonderful country of ours.  Please take the time today to offer a moment of silence for those who are no longer with us and remember to say thanks to a veteran.    If possible, make a contribution to an organization like the USO or the Wounded Warrior Project in support of our soldiers still in the field.   They all deserve a Monday Smile.

Happy Memorial Day, Dad.  You sure looked great in uniform.

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9 Comments on “Monday Smiles – Memorial Day 2010”

  1. grandawn Says:

    Beautiful post. Thank you for the link to Veteran’s benefits. This may come in handy as my father ages.

  2. sharon towns Says:

    Great post, I get a little choked up when talking about Veterans. I didn’t realize how much you look like your Dad.

  3. Liggy Says:

    That is so touching! As I would with every veteran out there, please extend my gratitude to your father for his years of service. The military and the veterans deserve so much more than they get – even though they give so much of themselves for their country. I grew up with a military father and relatives. Even my husband is a Navy veteran. I understand the hardships military families go through. And the sacrifices the military make are immeasurable. Thanks again!

  4. Wolfbernz Says:

    Hi Bud,
    I am glad I stopped by, your post is a wonderful tribute 🙂
    I am so thankful for people like your Dad that serve in our armed forces.
    My Father was in the military also and as I read your post it brought back many memories especially since his name was Frank A.___ ironic they had all but the same last name. Thanks for a great post and thank your dad for me too.


  5. Trina Says:

    What a wonderful post! You father looks amazing in the photo!

    I am thankful for guys like your dad and all those who serve in the armed forces. I saw a status on Facebook yesterday that seemed appropriate:

    Jesus died for your sins and our Men and Women in the military died for your freedom.


  6. granny1947 Says:

    Brilliant Post….gives food for thought which is always a good thing.
    Your Dad is a very good looking man….tell him I said so!!!

  7. What a beautiful post and tribute to your father and Memorial Day! Thank you for writing this!! 🙂

  8. Angela Says:

    Wow! It’s all I can come up with right now. All of it. The picture of your dad, you and Patti look so much like him. Glen too I suppose, but not as striking as you and your sis. I loved your mom growing up, and loved your dad as an adult living next door to him, raising my children. Since nine eleven the military has taken on a whole new meaning to me. Mostly of gratitude, and I couldn’t of found better words than you to describe it all. Thanks so much for sharing.

  9. Muffie Bosson Signore Says:

    Dear Buddy: Words cannot express the wonderful tribute you gave your Dad this past Memorial Day/Much deserved and quite humble.Our family was blessed to be a part of Mom and Dads life in East Haven.Angela has forward your tribute to all the Bosson Kin. Thanks Buddy and may God Bless you, and your family.

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