On this November 11th, please take a few moments out of your busy day and give thanks to the men and women who have served in our military and have signed a blank check to our government to give anything, up to their lives, to protect the freedoms which we have become so accustomed to.
My father was one of those brave individuals. While I was in college, I was given an assignment by my English professor to interview someone who lived during World War II. Even though my relationship with my father was very strained at the time because of things that occurred in the past, I chose to interview him for this project. See, I knew he had served but that was all I knew. He never spoke about his experiences during that historic time. What I learned that day gave me a new understanding of who he was and why he did the things he did.
In 1943, my father was torn between becoming a priest in the Catholic Church and serving his country during World War II. He chose to serve his country. He lied about his age and enlisted in the US Navy at 17. He served his tour of duty in the Phillipines and contracted malaria while there.
After his tour ended, he then enlisted in the Army and was sent to Germany during the early days of the Occupation. My dad’s job there was to act as guard for the radiomen. He had the duty to make sure no harm came to those men who were helping to coordinate Ally movement in a then-volatile country. While the radiomen were holed up in a building, my father was out front on the street securing the premises.
While on duty one night, he was confronted by a man pointing a Luger at his chest. This man saw that my father was an American soldier and that’s all he cared about. He knew nothing about my dad except he was an American in uniform occupying his country. My dad had to kill or be killed. He chose to save himself and hold his post protecting the men upstairs running the radios.
From what I have heard in news stories about the war in the Middle East, our men and women in the military today are being put in very similar positions as my father was seventy years ago. They never know if the woman or child coming down the street is going to have a bomb strapped to their waist or if some man is on a rooftop taking aim at their chests. Yet, knowing the risk, these amazing, brave individuals sign their names to those enlistment papers to walk away from their lives as they have always known them to go serve in the military to defend our freedoms. For that, I say “Thank You! Thank you for protecting this country from attacks and for bringing those who attack us to justice.Â Thank you for letting those of us who stay behind have peace of mind and sleep soundly at night. Thank you for doing what you can to make sure our children can grow up in a country where they have the freedom to live their lives as they choose. Thank you for protecting and defending the ideals that this great nation was built on. Though many would love nothing more than to tear us down, we are America.”