Quiet Veterans

Memorial Day Commemoration 2008

Memorial Day Commemoration 2008 (Photo credit: davidyuweb)

I suppose my uncles never needed an excuse to get together.  Every summer, we had picnics galore.  Starting out with Memorial Day.  That day was like the kick-off of summertime.  I never thought about Memorial Day as a day to honor veterans.  That’s because all the veterans I knew kept pretty mum about war memories.

All my uncles were veterans.  Dad and Uncle Ellis and Uncle Merle were in the Army.  Uncle Frank was in the Air Force.  Uncle Glenn was in the Marines.  All those brothers fought The Big War, The War to End all Wars.  That’s when Dad got his appendix out, on account of a stomach ache that he had all his life.  The Army decided to put a stop to it right there and then.  Dad said every other time, he just had his stomach packed in ice, ’cause operations cost way

more money than his Daddie ever had.  He was super-surprised when the Army said, “Get on down to the infirmary, you gotta have surgery, or else.”  Dad said nobody argues with orders, so off he went and came out appendix-less.

Uncle Gerald wasn’t allow to fight in the Big War, ’cause, for one thing, he was too young, and for another thing, Grandma had a letter from the

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933. Lietuvių: Fra...

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

President of the United States saying,  ‘enough is enough.’  She already had five sons fight in wars, she could keep one at home.  Still, Uncle Gerald joined the National Guard during the Korean War.  He wasn’t about to let the President or his mother stand in the way of him doing his part for our great nation.  I guess after a few years, the world forgot The Big War was The War to End all Wars, ’cause ever since, little wars spring up all over the place; some of those little wars are pretty big.  Sometimes people make-believe it doesn’t count as a war, or they just try to forget it altogether.  And it hardly even matters how big it is, if someone you love is fighting.

It’s pretty hard to keep people from killing each other for some reason or another.  If they don’t have a good reason, they just make something up. Come to think of it, there’s probably never a good reason to kill somebody.  If more people had mothers like mine, there would be fewer wars, that’s for sure.  She said fighting is for the birds, and ‘walking in other people’s shoes’ was the way to understand people.   If you understand somebody, you never fight them.  If everybody did that: no more wars.  That might be part true, but Deanna would about kill me if I borrowed her shoes without asking.  She’d never punch or shoot me. Punching, slapping, and kicking were against the rules; and so was even pointing a gun a someone.  Deanna would do way worse:  she’d kill me with steeled stares and clenched jaws.

Dad and his brother never talked about fighting in the war.   Almost every Memorial Day, the brothers argued who was toughest:  Air Force, Army, Marines.  They argued the same way about what car maker was the best:  Chevy, Chrysler, or Ford.

English: US Under Secretary of the Army Hugh M...

English: US Under Secretary of the Army Hugh M. Milton II at the National Guard Memorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nobody, even Uncle Gerald, piped in to say the National Guard was the toughest.  That’d be like saying one of those Japanese car maker was the best.

In the end, Dad has his scar to show, which was good for six sets of dancing blue eyes and six heads thrown back laughing their guts out, with all their fillings showing; Dad with that one green tooth lined with gold sitting up front, making him stand out from all the other brothers.   Grandma and Aunt Barbara and all the aunts and Mom sitting listening and quiet, just counting their blessings that every single one of those silly hearted brothers was leaning back on his hands, belly full of watermellon.  Home safe.

A Quiet Veteran

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