If I were keeping on-track with my Sepia Saturday posts, earlier today would have been a great day to discuss my father's military record in World War II, since this is Memorial Day Weekend! Unfortunately, I haven't had time to find and scan the photos which will accompany that upcoming post, so I decided to post a filler of sorts instead.
My father didn't discuss his own military career at all. Ever. He made vague references to the army and the war, but that was it. For whatever reason, he (and I) did watch a lot of the 1960's television programs which dealt with WWII, like Combat, Hogan's Heroes, Twelve O'Clock High, The Rat Patrol, Garrison's Gorillas, and others. We also watched a lot of old war movies on TV. He even took me -- without my mother and sister -- to the drive-in on two separate occasions when I was a boy, to see Battle of the Bulge and The Dirty Dozen.
But, as I said, there were few occasions when he and I even discussed soldiering in general, and I'd like to share one brief instance with you today.
My parents were very supportive of my reading habits, including -- unlike some parents -- my love for comic books. How could they object to comics, when the comics I read spurred me to constantly crack open the World Book Encyclopedia? I'd read an issue of Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos and go to the World Book to learn more about this "Hitler" guy they'd mentioned. I'd read Journey into Mystery (featuring The Mighty Thor) and spend hours reading World Book entries about Norse mythology.
There was one issue of Sgt. Fury (pictured at top) which my father noticed, and thought was rather stupid:
His main objection was that the Nazis on the cover of this comic were firing their weapons "point blank" at the heroes... and missing.
I guess he felt like the critics of the sitcom Hogan's Heroes did, who said things more or less like "If the Nazis were really that incompetent, the war would have ended in a matter of days!"
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The other thing I'd like to share for Memorial Day is a true anecdote. (This is edited from a comment I left on someone else's blog shortly before the November 2008 Presidential Election.)
One day, in a grocery store parking lot, I called out "Thanks, man!" to the driver of a rather beat-up looking pickup truck.
"For what?" asked the guy, who looked to be in his late fifties or early sixties.
I pointed to the bumper sticker on the back of his truck, which read, "If you love your freedom... Thank a Vet!"
"Oh, that," he said. "I've had that on there almost as long as I've had the truck. In all that time, you're only the second guy who's ever said anything about it."
I walked away, feeling rather ashamed for all of us "civilians."
I don't care what your politics are, nor which party you vote for on election day. If it weren't for our liberties -- liberties which our armed forces have maintained for our sakes -- either you or I would be forced to accept the other's choice. Or you and I would be forced to accept a third person's choice! And that would be many times worse than letting the "lesser" of two candidates get elected.
It's men and women like those whom Tom Brokaw referred to as "The Greatest Generation" (as well as those who came before and after them, too, of course) who have gone where this country has sent them -- regardless of whether they felt the war was "justified" -- to insure that you, myself, and everyone else in the USA -- and I certainly don't mean to slight servicemen and women in other countries as well, although I'm speaking mainly for myself and my own country this time around -- have kept the rights and freedoms we were given over 200 years ago... And today's post is dedicated in honor & remembrance of all of them.
Thanks for your time.