Every Memorial Day weekend, I can't help but reflect on how proud I am of my Dad and the fact that he dedicated almost 25 years of his life to the Marine Corps. He enlisted when he was just 17 years old and was joined by one of his brothers, my favorite Uncle Cliff. He fought in the Korean War, Guam, two tours of Vietnam, and even a secret assignment for the CIA that he refused to disclose details on (my mom spilled the beans about it to us kids, but even she doesn't know what it really was all about). To this day, I'm insanely curious to find out what it was! All I know is that because he had to be so secretive, she broke off their engagement to him and they didn't get back together until many years later (ah, wartime romance!).
Although he didn't like to talk much about those times with us, on rare occasions—like on Memorial Day—he would open up and share stories about some of his experiences. It was always fascinating to hear them, but also so scary to think of my dad being out there in the trenches as such a young man and all the unsaid things that he must have endured. He made and lost many good friends during these tumultuous times, but brought back two lifelong friends that were known to me as "Uncle Break" and "Uncle Gene" and their families and ours stayed close all of their lives. My father-in-law, Ray, also served in the Air Force during WWII as a bomber pilot and was a POW for many years.
I can't imagine what it takes to volunteer to fight for our country, as I don't think I could ever be that brave. It swells and breaks my heart at the same time whenever I watch those documentaries on the History Channel and know that those stories and images aren't from a fictional movie set—but real life, with real people who actually fought, suffered, prevailed against all odds, or gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. Without brave men like my dad and them, our country wouldn't enjoy the peace and freedoms that we have—and I am so very grateful for and proud of all the men and women who have served before and since his time.
Thank you, Semper Fi, and God Bless!