Veterans' Day is one of the most emotional holidays for me. Perhaps for many. Having a career in education, I have been involved in our high school's Veterans' Day programs that were truly moving tributes and a show of heartfelt gratitude for vets from every branch of service. In preparing for programs, I learned so much more about various aspects of the wars our boys and men have fought, and with that knowledge, my gratitude has become more profound. My trips to Washington D.C. and visits to the war memorials were sobering.
Today, I'll post a bit about my dad, who served in WWII. He had already established a grocery business before war broke out. But, he was called to duty, and he left his store in the hands of one of his sisters, one of his brothers, and a very good clerk who had worked for him for a few years. He would have been older than many soldiers, and I know that it must have been difficult to leave, not knowing if he'd ever come back.
He joined the Navy and served most of his time in the South Pacific. He talked about being on a "tin can," working as a store-keeper on the ship (although I'm probably not using the correct term). He told very few stories of his time in the service. However, he did share that one time when he was on deck, he was too near one of the big guns that fired, and it affected his hearing from that point on.
He brought home some very pretty shells which he must have picked up on a beach somewhere; I remember him showing his collection with pleasure, and his blue eyes would light up, but no stories for kids came with it. I was in awe when he showed us his navy uniforms; he certainly was a skinny guy at the time!
I think the whole experience was very unsettling for him, and he was relieved to be in safe waters or back on land. It was at a USO dance that he met my mom; so I guess I'm pretty glad they found each other on a dance floor, jitterbugging to some live Big Band music in Madison, WI.
He made it home, took back the grocery store, and continued to build the business, which provided well for his family.