It seems every generation has sent its sons and daughters off to at least one war.
My grandparents’ generation sent their children to World War II and Korea.
My parents’ generation sent their children to Vietnam.
My generation has sent its young men and women to the Middle East and Afghanistan.
My father was among the men and women who served in World War II. He wrote his mother many letters, which she kept, and which went to him after she died, and which have come to me.
I still have some of them. It is as hard to read his writing as a young man in his early 20s as it is to read now as an old man, who will be 89 years old on Nov. 13.
My father and mother married in 1945. He left the Navy in 1948, and I was born in 1949.
My dad was fortunate because the ships he was on were not battle ships.
instead, their main job was to transport troops and supply ships.
He did not return from the South Pacific physically wounded or mentally damaged with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Not all of his generation was so lucky. When I saw him last year, he told me a chilling story about his ship picking up Marines from one of the Pacific Islands where they had been fighting the Japanese, and some of them decided to go “swimming” while the vessel was steaming along in the middle of the ocean. Eventually the captain made everyone stay below deck except those on guard duty.
Most of the stories he has told of his Navy years were not so grim and were fascinating to hear. He told many interesting stories last year when I took him to see the battleship Iowa, that is now permanently anchored in San Pedro...
We had our video camera with is when we saw him in October, hoping to get more stories from him to preserve the memories. But he was not interested in telling stories this time. Perhaps if we had taken him back to see the battleship, he would have been more willing to talk; unfortunately, we ran out of time.
As it happened, nearly all of the men in my life served our country in the military. Both of my brothers joined the Navy, and for a while they were stationed at the same naval base at the same time.
This brother was a cook....
This brother was a welder...
My husband was in the Army. He just missed going to Vietnam.
Our son did not go off to war. He tried to go, though. He enlisted, was accepted in the National Guard on a preliminary basis, and went on some weekend training maneuvers; however, at the final evaluation, they decided he did not quite have what it took to be a soldier, so he was discharged.