A few weeks ago, the kid and I were up at 5 am on a Sunday to go to the airport in Boston to send off a group of World War II veterans traveling to Washington, DC. An organization called Honor Flight Network makes this possible — they transport America’s veterans to visit those memorials dedicated to honor the service and sacrifices of themselves and their friends. Although I wasn’t sure what to expect and admit to a little grumbling about the early hour, it was quite a moving scene. More than 100 people lined the entrance to the Boston terminal to send the vets off — the kid and his fellow high school students, a military band, current military service men and women, a veterans motorcycle group carrying the colors, and just general well-wishers. As I waited, I realized that these guys would be around 90, even if they joined when they were 16. Given their age, I was prepared for something depressing, but it was quite the opposite. Some 25 vets came through, all in wheel chairs, each with an attendant from Honor Flight or a family member. They all looked alert, and one by one people stepped out from the group to look each one in the eye and thank them with a kind word and warm handshake. It was very moving.
This current administration seems receptive to creating more veterans of wars, so even as we fight that, we also need to remember to take care of the ones we have. The Honor Flight Network is one of the many ways we can do that. It’s a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. While WWII vets are their priority, they are working on expanding to veterans of the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
So thank you to Honor Flight, all veterans organizations, veterans, and all our service people. Let’s keep remembering and getting involved however and where ever we can, even if it’s a smile and warm handshake.
On this Memorial Day I’d like to thank all those who have served in the military, past and present. This includes my dad who was in the Korean War. Before that though, he lived through WWII as a child in occupied Holland. He experienced firsthand the fear of watching German soldiers march through his village, singing rousing songs of victory. He knew deprivation and hunger as the war dragged on and people were forced to eat anything, including tulip bulbs. Sick with dysentery, he also experienced relief as British and America planes dropped boxes of food at the war’s end. Five years later his family immigrated to the US, and he was an immigrant here at the time he was drafted for the Korean War. That always seemed pretty unfair to me, but then nothing about war is very fair. He reports he was a pretty hopeless soldier, and the army tried him in a number of different roles, before settling on KP duty, aka kitchen prep. As a Dutchman, he knows his way around a spud and can peel a potato in one long peel with just a knife and his wits.
I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend, and I sincerely hope we can one day stop making more veterans, so we can take care of the ones we have.
You can read more about my dad’s life during WWII here.
My mom is staying with me this weekend and I didn’t have the foresight to write something in advance, so just a quick post to recognize Memorial Day and to thank all those who have served in the military, past and present. This includes my dad who was in the Korean War. He was an immigrant in the US at the time he was drafted. He reports he was a pretty hopeless soldier, and the army tried him in a number of different roles, before settling on KP duty, aka kitchen prep. As a Dutchman, he knows his way around a spud and can peel a potato in one long peel with just a knife and his wits. I also want to give a shout out to another prominent group associated with Memorial Day, middle school and high school marching bands. Having played my lips numb on a trumpet in at least six memorial days, I have memories of marching in the sweltering heat in a wool band uniform with a heavy vinyl overlay. I’ve heard some people found that sort of thing fun. If so, a tall poofy hat off to you; if not, thanks for suffering through.
So hope everyone is enjoying their weekend, and I sincerely hope we can one day stop making more veterans, so we can take care of the ones we have.