“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” (Joseph Campbell)
Veterans Day reminds me to think of my brave military father. You might know then that he flew in the armed forces as a ball turret gunner on a B-17, Flying Fortress aircraft during World War II. In this exposed firing bubble position protruding from the bottom of the plane, he courageously survived multiple bombing missions over Germany from 1943-45. I remember as well how this unassuming man humbly decided to keep his distinguished military past to himself at all times during my formative years. I thus never viewed him as a war loving army man. Sadly, after enduring many years of crippling pain with Rheumatoid Arthritis, he passed away tragically in 1991.
Certainly, my positive memories of him as a father also add to his living legacy today. For I recall a man who taught me to be well organized in his meticulous placement of wallet, comb and other personal possessions neatly inside his desk drawer each day. I can also fondly recollect his stern dedication to self responsibility with my visualization of his bed in perfect tight fit each morning with daily clothes neatly folded. Retaining strong memories as well of his extraordinary eye/hand coordination required for wartime gunnery, I seem to have inherited from him this skill in learning to master the slide trombone, swing a “mean” baseball bat and handle driving a motor vehicle safely.
On a personal level then, Veterans Day in 2019 signifies a time for me to express the honor of being my father’s only son For in spite of a modest disposition, his well earned heroism in war and positive role model image as a father inspires me strongly to this day. I’m certain he would be happy to know that I keep in my home some surviving relics of his military past: assorted medals, flight gear, military casket flag, and photographs in army uniform. So I urge you to find your own hero on Veterans Day and don’t forget to look around and ask yourself truly why.