Thursday, November 11, 2010
A Moment of Thanks
It's Veteran's Day and I wanted to take a moment to thank all the veterans who have so bravely and selflessly fought -- or otherwise put themselves on the line -- to protect the freedoms we all so strongly believe in.
My father is one. A reluctant one, who was anti-war and never believed violence was the way, but went anyway, because he was called, and served valiantly, in a MASH unit in Viet Nam, 1966-67.
War changed him, even in some good ways. It made him a better and stronger doctor, and, likely, a tougher soul. Things that were also good qualities for a father. :)
During the year he was gone, my father wrote to my mother, my sister and me every single day. I have stacks and stacks of the letters - they are a fascinating, poignant, and honest chronicle of young love, death, fear, disillusionment, family, hope, medicine and the horrors of war. It is a huge regret that my sister and I have not yet managed to do what we hoped we would: put them together in a cohesive collection and have them published. I still hope we will.
This photo, above, is from the day my father arrived home from Viet Nam, to two children who were young enough when he left that a year away made him a stranger to them. He was never a stranger again. He came to my sister's class for show and tell right after that ("see, I have a father!") and to every recital, school play, gymnastic competition, moot court competition, family dinner, grandchild's baseball game, etc., etc. after that. He has been, truly, the best father a girl could have -- those of you blessed to have strong, hands-on fathers who teach, champion, support and protect you -- not to mention love and adore you -- throughout your lives know how precious this is.
So, on this veteran's day, a valentine to my father, and by extension, to all fathers out there, then and now, who leave their families to serve in war. May there never be another one. Ever.