Sunday, November 11, 2012

My veterans

Veterans Day immerses me in memory; of songs sung by my grandfather from his rocking chair; of fastidiously scripted plans for "policing the area" before imaginary camping trips hinted at by my father; of my cousin's affection for growing up on military bases; of a brother-in-law's sudden re-deployment to the Gulf War, decades after covert assignments out of Vietnam,  which kicked open the door to sleepless nights for my sister and all of us who love them both.

Because of my father's service in World War II, I grew up watching Victory at Sea, reading Michener's Tales of the South Pacific, knowing that Isa Lei was a Fijian song that took him, for moments, to a part of the war that he wanted to remember, even revisit.  A late remarriage and honeymoon presented an opportunity to see Fiji again.   He had waited so long.

Grandpa came home with the French Croix de guerre and his battlefield nurse bride-to-be, Dad with his Navy pea coat and a fondness for military order, brother Jay with stories he could never tell, and all with hard-won benefits that helped house and educate them, that continue to provide.

If you haven't seen the French movie, A Very Long Engagement, I recommend it: against the horrors of war, very much in support of the heart's wisdom.

Overwhelm seems to be my authentic response to stories of our current returning veterans, how short we have fallen in terms of support to express our gratitude.  On a recent vacation in San Diego, friends Lisa and Jim took the time to search out the grave sites for my veteran grandparents at the stunning Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on Point Loma, as beautiful a piece of real estate as California has to offer.  They deserve no less.  More than that, I am grateful for the care they received from V.A. hospitals while they were alive.
 All flags fly for you, the brave and the willing.  With thanks almost beyond expressing.


beth coyote said...

I remember my dad falling asleep in front of some war movie. He'd be snoring while the skies lit up with bombs.


Marylinn Kelly said...

Beth - Mine would watch the documentary-style programs and point out technical errors in the narration. xo

Pam Morrison said...

I've been moved by your blog post marylinn. It's good to be reminded of the human experience, the human cost. Opposition to war and it's terrible and mostly futile outcomes means that the individuals involved are forgotten or maligned. At least that's the experience here in nz. You make me want to raise a flag too, whatever the rights and wrongs of war.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Pam - Thank you. Having been so opposed to the Vietnam war, I never imagined that, in many, the sentiments would carry over to the returning troops who deserved so much better than what awaited them at home. So we build compartments. xo

Erin in Morro Bay said...

I always think that we in the states- while sending our grandparents,parents, spouses and children off to war- were so blessed in the 20th century to not have to have the fighting on our doorstep as they did in Europe. While honouring our military heroes on this day of remembrance, I also always say a prayer for those brave and tenacious civilians who maintained a "stiff upper lip" during the Blitz and resisted the Nazi regime in France. Thanks to all who fought for our freedoms - in and out of uniform.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - We were truly fortunate in not being under siege at home, not occupied, not experiencing the blitz and so much more. Yes, the civilians every bit as much as the military deserve our thanks. Glad you remembered them all. xo