On the bottom shelf in my library -- the shelf that holds various oversize coffee-table books -- there is a seldom-opened tome that offers images from the Viet Nam war. about 2/3rds of the way through that book, on the left-hand side, there is a black-and-white picture of six young Marines on a gun boat.
They are tired and sweaty. All of them wear tattered, dirty fatigues and grim, thousand-yard stares, even as they smile mechanically for the camera and brandish their weapons. They are all weighed down by so much more than their overloaded rucks.
The one in the middle is my Da'.
He carries a field radio; the same radio that will be hit by gunfire in less than three months and burn its imprint indelibly into his body. He still carries that radio today -- the straps are still visible if he wears sleeveless shirts (which of course he doesn't, because too many people gawk at the bright pink keloids that mar his shoulders and upper chest). There is a ratty towel around his neck, he wears standard military-issue, black-rimmed "birth control" glasses and his helmet is covered in illegible graffiti. If I wanted to, I could climb to his attic today and pull the towel, the glasses and the helmet out of his footlocker and trace the ghosts of those words with my finger.
My love of books,. my poor eyesight, my affection for bad puns and truly awful dirty jokes and my skills in profanity all come from the man in that picture.
My eldest daughter has his artistic talent in spades.
My son has his eyes and his mechanical ability to disassemble and reassemble anything handed to him.
My youngest child has smile and shows all the signs of having his skill in languages.
He still bears the scars -- physical and psychological -- from a conflict decades and continents away. Those scars can be easily breached by careless words and actions.
Remember those who have served and those who currently serve this Memorial Day.
(I will save my vitriol for those who scorn such service and are utterly beneath contempt for another day.)
Addendum, becasue I can't get the comment to post:
EB -- it's despicable when any Commander-in-Chief -- who bears the ultimate responsibility in sending our men and women into harm's way -- neglects to honor them appropriately. Party affiliation does not matter.
If you're willing to send people to die to enforce the will of the Country, the least you can fucking do is hang around and drop a fucking wreath for those who have fallen.
About the only legit excuse could accept in this case is an honest-to-God medical crisis.