Memorial Day carries so much emotion for me.
My father served in World War II as a Navy doctor in the Pacific. He continued his service to this country, not only as a physician, but as a Radiological Safety Officer in the post-war Manhattan Project where he was exposed a number of times to radiation in 1946/Operation Crossroads at Bikini Island and in 1951/Operation Greenhouse at Eniwetok Island. When he was 46 years old, he died of Pancreatic cancer, a cancer known to stem from radiation exposure. I was 12. My sisters were 10 and 7. We lost our father. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. I am proud of my father. Our mother raised us alone with grief on her heart. In 2013, she passed away. We had the honor of burying her with Daddy at Arlington National Cemetery.
My husband served in the Army, 101st Airborne, Combat Infantry Soldier, in the Viet Nam War. We, as a country, did not treat the soldiers of that war well upon their return. I am grateful that there is respect shown for them now, but we should have acknowledged all that they did for us back then. I am sorry to all of you Viet Nam veterans who might be reading this. Instead of recognizing you as a soldier who was obeying orders, we looked to the overall picture of the war that seemed fruitless and was killing so many of you. May I apologize for our mistakes and the dishonor we showed you. I am so sorry.
I love you, Kenneth, and respect you so very much…for all you did then and for the husband you are to me now. I praise God for you.
Memorial Day is:
- a day (and there ought to be 364 more days a year for this) to remember the many men and women who have worn a uniform of the United States Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard over this country’s history.
- a day to remember why they wore those uniforms — to protect the United States of America and her citizens.
- a day to remember that many have died in the face of an enemy during battle, protecting the people and the freedoms that come with living in this country. Their blood was shed as they obeyed their commanding officers.
- a day to remember that there are many, this very day, who are wearing one of these uniforms and are in harm’s way…this very day!