i have a number of photos my father gave me, not included in the family albums, not those he sent back to home to his wife, mother, and other family members. Some of these he gave me I will never show to anyone other than my brother or very close male friends. They are photos of war.
This one is not very clear. It may be my favorite.
It is the picture of a man in a world so far removed from his own world in the middle of Tennessee, a good man with only good intentions in his heart, a half world away from all he knew, including a newborn son he had seen for about three or four days before he boarded a “liberty” ship to sail.
He stands in a seascape. From my stops in that part of the world, inland from the scene is most likely a jungle. He is alone…almost. There is another sailor, most likely another Seabee, a silhouette on the beach behind him. The scene is pacific, but the specter of war and death for another cause of domination surrounds him.
Yet he stands proud, at attention, a sailor committed to defend his way of life with all of its goodness and flaws he hopes can be addressed and resolved.
He is there fighting for his life, his country, and in his mind, for the goodness of us all.
There is no such thing as a great war. But this one was the last fought for defending freedom, independence from tyranny, and equality of all men, even when all of us (and I use the term “men” in the sense of all human kind) were not considered equal. It was the last war in defense of us, not for vengeance or our protection of others on our side as all the wars and combat after that one have been. Those lines of what is necessary to protect our country are now blurred.
He and his brethren did not fight for a political party, not even a religion, but for a way of life that promised freedom in the belief all men (again the inclusive term) have inalienable rights.
So here he is, my father, on a hill beyond a beach in the South Pacific. I’m guessing it’s in New Guinea, one of his stops, 1944.
This is a photo of a defender of rights and freedom.
For twenty-two years, i too served to defend those things my father supported. But my service was a choice. His was a willingness to leave his way of life.
Yet all veterans chose to sacrifice the life they knew to serve. I am proud to say there is a lineage from my father to me to my son-in-law.
Those folks should be honored today with a moment of silence, of thanks.
God bless all of you who have stepped up for good, not just us or our country, but for all of mankind, again the inclusive term.