This morning, on the anniversary of my dad’s death, and two days short of his 77th birthday, my daughter sang with the chorus at her elementary school’s Veteran’s Day celebration and I was struck by sadness that she never really knew my dad. She has no memory of him because she was only three years old when he passed away, so it’s up to me to tell her about the man who helped make me who I am today.
Dad would have been so proud of her this morning as she and her class signed the Pledge of Allegiance in American Sign Language. My daughters constantly amaze me with their gifts and talents and sometimes I catch a glimpse of him in the flash of their smile, or the show of their strength. My dad was a strong man, but I didn’t always realize it at the time.
Dad used to take us fishing a lot, and once when I was about my daughter’s age, I overheard him speaking with an older man. I heard him thank the man for his service to our country, but I noticed that my dad stayed silent about his time in the Army. Later on, I asked him why he didn’t mention that he’d served too, and he looked at me and said meaningfully, “that man served in World War II.”
It didn’t make much sense to me at the time, but it makes sense now because when my dad joined the Army he went where they sent him, and most of his time was spent in Alaska. While it was no picnic, his service years were spent building character, not at war. It was only much later that I realized my dad, who was a child in France during WWII, came face to face with one of his heroes on the fishing pier that day. I can only imagine what that must have been like for him, but it has taught me three important lessons: first, we never know when we may find heroes among us; very often, they just blend in. Second, even heroes have heroes. Third, it’s a huge blessing when we get to thank them for their service.
God bless our Veterans. Let’s thank them every chance we get!