On Honoring

Considering that events are like dominos, determining the most significant events in a century is actually difficult – but, for the effect on my life, it’s World War II. With this week marking another anniversary of D-Day Invasion, it’s good timing for this post.

It’s hard to imagine 16 million Americans serving in the Armed Forces at that time – let alone over 400,000 deaths. Then add to that the number of serving the Allies from other countries, and those too that died. Top that off with the huge effort at home. Simply wow!

The survivors became what journalist Tom Brokow called The Greatest Generation – the hard workers, respectful citizens, community leaders, and business leaders that built the success of the post-war America. We baby boomers grew up around these men, and lived a life because of them.

Personally, my dad fought in WW II as an 18 year old who left high school to serve – and he re-enlisted in the 1950s. In 2008, I took him to what would be his last reunion with his friends, and I later wrote about my weekend with the Greatest Generation, a post most of my current readers haven’t seen. (John, you will like it.)

Because WW II was such a defining moment for this country and the world, I’m amazed that the U.S. didn’t have a national monument for the effort until 2004. Then again, perhaps that is because of the humble nature of these men and those times that we didn’t understand until later.

My dad passed away several years ago at age 84, yet he never saw the National WW II Memorial – I now understand that I should have taken him. Honor Flight is an organization with a mission of taking surviving veterans to this worthy memorial in Washington – and doing so free of charge. I encourage readers to consider a donation to this cause.

When Dad passed away, a dinner group friend asked me about making a donation in his memory – and I suggested Honor Flight. Last week that friend sent me a link with an article and a video while saying, “I thought of your dad when I saw this.” Needless to say, and after two years, I was touched and cried for a variety of reason. Enjoy the video.

On a Retrospective to Veteran’s Day 2009

Yesterday was Veteran’s Day and since my work location was closed, I had the opportunity to watch more cable news. Sure the day is filled with parades, speeches, and moments of silence, but it is a day that should cause each of us to reflect.

I thought about Vietnam. Although I didn’t serve, I lived the times. Years later when the Vietnam Memorial design was proposed, I recall the outcry against it. Then again, I also recall visiting it and the special feeling I got walking down the ramp into the memorial. Wow – I guess the design was right after all.

I thought about my dad who served in WW II at age 18. He’s always kept in touch with his Army buddies, yet their numbers decrease each day. I heard a report today saying that there are over 2 million WW II veterans still alive today – yet I also read an estimated of 1200 of them die each day.

I thought about last year taking Dad to a reunion of a post-WW II group. Interestingly this group was made of a few who also served in WW II, but also some who where just getting started, thus eventually ending their military careers following Vietnam. The link to those two wars was right there in the room with me among them. I wrote about the reunion weekend last Veterans Day (here’s the link).

I watched President Obama’s speech at Arlington National Cemetery. It was a good speech that was full reflection – then again presidential speeches on this day are good for that, no matter who delivers it.

I also saw a report about Honor Flight – an organization that is funding trips so WW II veterans can visit the WW II Memorial in Washington. Very impressive, but I’m sorry that I was unable to find the online video version. In its place, please visit the Honor Flight site for more information about this noble cause, and here’s an ABC News video from 2007 about the person who started it.