This flag display, which I saw on my morning walk, inspired me to go to the cemetery to visit my dad and to remember my two uncles, all of whom served overseas during wartime. My dad was a Tech Sgt. stationed in Italy and North Africa during World War II and his job had something to do with communications. I don’t know if he saw combat. If he had been in combat he probably wouldn’t have told me. Men in his generation didn’t talk about the war once they came home. Whatever happened he made sacrifices. He was in his early thirties and working happily in a full-time job when he enlisted. Quitting a job, taking a pay cut, living in crude quarters with a bunch of strangers, and having somebody boss him around at that age represent a certain amount of sacrifice.
The only photograph I have of my dad during that period is a black and white, 8″x 10″ glossy, showing him and another solider in uniform sitting on the same side of a bench in front of a table filled with dirty dishes, two partially empty wine glasses, and two empty wine bottles. Their smiles tell me they were happy. I always wondered if they were celebrating the end of the war. In any case, if my dad ever looked at the photo when he came home, he would have been reminded that some moments during the war weren’t bad. I’m glad he served even if his four years away from home were difficult. If he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have met my mom and I wouldn’t have been born.
My two uncles also served in World War II. One was a carpenter who joined the Navy Seabees. He was part of a construction battalion sent to the Pacific to build military bases. I don’t know where my other uncle served. I just know that I have his Purple Heart, which means he was “wounded while serving with the U.S. military.”
Normally I don’t think about the meaning of Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day. I’m thankful that the city thought to remind me and others through its beautiful display.