Friday, November 9, 2012
Monday morning I will be at Quantico National Cemetery in Virginia with my brother and sister for our mother's memorial service. It is a fitting place to be on the Monday following Veterans Day—surrounded by the graves of thousands of veterans, decorated with thousands of American flags to remind us of their service.
I have tremendous respect for the brave men and women who have fought in our wars. I don't believe it's something I could have done. The Vietnam War was still going strong when my father took me to Chicago on my sixteenth birthday to register for the draft. I was terrified. I don't know what I would have done if my number had come up. Fortunately, the war—and the draft—ended before that happened.
My father served twenty-eight years in the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. He was deployed to Europe at the peak of the Cold War, when the Berlin Wall was built. (I remember how much it meant to him when I took him to the Reagan Library to see the section of the wall that's displayed there.) Dad was very modest about his service and never considered himself to be a "real" veteran. I do, though—and so did the government. They gave him a military funeral with honors when he passed away earlier this year.
Both of my uncles and my father-in-law were veterans of the Second World War: my father's brother, Hollis Logue, Jr., was stationed on Bougainville Island in the Pacific; my mother's brother, Richard Shorter, served in India; Loretta's father, Young Wong, served in North Africa and Italy.
I have slightly older friends who served in the Vietnam War and much younger friends who served in Iraq.
On Monday morning, I will be thinking of my mother, of course. But I will also be thinking of them—my father, my uncles, my father-in-law, my friends, and all of the others who served and still serve. And if I could, I would say just two words to all of them—