Since I was very young, I have been aware of Memorial Day. Both sides of my family have celebrated it one way or another. I have many relatives and friends that are/have serving/served in the military. My Maternal great great grandfather William O’Leary was in the civil War. He had to have his leg cut off on the field. There are pictures of him with crutches tucked under his arms standing on one leg. He went on to live into his 90’s. My father was in the army. I don’t remember dates very well, but he was stationed in Korea, a handful of years after the Korean conflict. The Deaner family tells a story where he lost a friend or two located at a DMZ (zone). He was in the infirmary that day, and it had affected him the rest of his life, that he was not there when his friends had fallen. At my father’s funeral, (He died in 1997.) The military fired their guns in honor of his service, and they handed the flag to me. It was what I remember most at his funeral; the rest was a blur.
My Uncle Clayton, my father’s brother, was in Vietnam. Clay was a charmer! (He died several years ago, likely from side effects of Agent Orange.) Also, one of my favorite uncles, Uncle Jack, was in the army. My aunt mentioned a time where he got a bout of appendicitis, while they lived in Panama, and she had to drive a military jeep to get him medical attention. At the time, she did not know how to drive a manual vehicle. Needless to say they worked it out, because I got to know him and love him. (He died of cancer a few years ago.) The most recent family member in the army was my cousin’s (Uncle Jack’s daughter) husband Jeff Miller. He enlisted after earning a bachelor’s degree at Illinois State University. He is now a high ranking officer in the police department in Wisconsin.
One of the last and powerful memories of a military loved one in harm’s way, was when I was in junior high. My best friend’s brother, Brian Goff, was a marine stationed in the Philippines, when a volcano erupted there. We were all gathered around trying to find out if he was ok. Thank goodness he was safe and sound and working hard.
I guess I want to share that every Memorial Day I think of all veterans and their families. I do not talk about it a great deal. Some of my friends may not know Memorial Day is very special to me, as is Veteran’s Day. When I talked to my mother today about the fact that I was writing about veterans in my life she said, “Be sure you add, Go kiss a Vet!” I feel that I have been graced to know people that have served in and are still serving in the military, and I want to say Thank you today and every day.
There are military friends I would like to mention; Sean Schickel, Kip Walgren, Jason Azilotti, Erik Johnson, Annie Walker, Peter Henning, Tom Cain, Rachel Bannister, Tyler Murphy, and I am sure there are many I am forgetting. Thank you!