30 May 2016

Where Have All The Heroes Gone?

by Jan Grape

Memorial Day 2016

I guess I noticed it more in the Sunday Comics. Our newspaper only had one comic strip that even mentioned the True Meaning of Memorial Day. OVER THE HEDGE by Michael Fry and T. Lewis. Thank you gentlemen. They mention "Remembering Our Fallen Heroes" With the last frame showing an American Flag. Two other strips mention BBQ or grilling in the back yard. Okay, maybe the other comic strips remembering the Fallen Heroes will be in tomorrow's papers. A lot of people only take the Sunday paper and everything shows up much better in color print.

When did this just become a day to grill out doors, buy a new mattress or travel on the first official day of summer? Maybe I'm just getting too old and a little cranky. But I remember when all the comics would do something special to bring up the fact that the day was set aside to remember those we've lost in war.

We still are involved in wars going on all over the Middle East. Undeclared wars for sure but American Military young people, male and female are still coming home in body bags.  Maybe nowadays we don't like to think about war. Congress won't even bring it up for debate. Almost every town and many big cities usually had a parade. I guess I'll check on the news tonight and see if any parades took place.

I was born in 1939. Okay, you do the math. For the next few years War was almost all people talked about or thought about. I was a teen in the 50s the time of the Korean War and a young mother during Vietnam. But people still talked about it. Young people protested it. Young men burned their draft cards and fled to Canada. Then the first Iraq war happened and suddenly the military was honored again. But our now those wars have been going on so long that maybe people have become complacent and jaded.

One of the first big memories of my dad happened when I was six years old and living with my grandparents in the Houston area. We actually lived ten miles from the Houston City limits. I was home from school, first grade, because I had chicken pox. My mother worked at the Consolidated Aircraft factory in Ft. Worth and it was too difficult to be absent from your job. In fact, you could be fired if you were absent without a doctor's written excuse.  Mother sent me to live with my grandparents for a few months.  I was mostly over the pox but had not gone back to school yet.

 Suddenly, my grandmother said, "There's a Yellow Cab driving up to the front of our house."
I ran to the window and saw this tall man in an Army uniform getting out of a taxi. My grandmother threw open the door. "Tommy Barrow, come into this house." It was my dad. I don't remember much about what we said or how the whole visit went although I'm fairly sure he spent the night. I do remember looking at my arms and legs and seeing all these little pale pink spots. I thought my chicken pox had come back. But I was assured it was only my excitement that made the pox shine through.

 I also remember my grandfather and I driving with my dad out to the Dallas/Ft. Worth Highway. My dad had on his uniform again and he kissed me good-bye. He was going to hitchhike to Ft. Worth and in a couple days be off to the China Theater. Dad only stood there about five minutes when a car stopped to give him a ride. Folks back then would nearly always stop for anyone in the Military. This was long before we ever thought about stranger danger and hitchhiking by bad people.

 My dad was lucky in many ways. He had been to college and could type so he was usually assigned to be an officer's aide or secretary (or whatever they were called.) Like being "Radar" in the TV show. And wasn't out on the battlefield. He did tell me a few years before his death that he was in charge of setting up a medical mobile unit in India. These were the forerunners of MASH. It meant that he wasn't in grave danger. It also meant that my father came home.

Today is the day we honor those fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines who never got to come back home. These are our TRUE HEROES and many of us shall never forget them: NEVER.

14 comments:

Paul D. Marks said...

A very touching piece, Jan. And I think you're right about remembering what the holiday is really about and that is more than just grilling and hanging out.

janice law said...

A good piece and very appropriate for the day.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you!

karla howard said...

I enjoyed reading this!

karla howard said...

I enjoyed reading this!

R.T. Lawton said...

Jan, you don't have to serve in the front lines to get killed in a war. Your dad served during a time of war and we thank him for his service.
Nice article.

Phil Lee said...

Well said, mom! Times have definitely changed and I do think that society has become less aware and caring about the day to day lives our military and their families are enduring. (especially because of the on-going type of conflict we have seen in the Middle East for so long)

It is sad that as more time passes, the heros from our past move on, and their deeds are thought of a little less as well. At least with documentaries, books and movies their individual stories and sacrifices can hopefully remain alive for future generations.

I loved your memories of seeing your dad in uniform when he pulled up in the cab! The idea of servicemen being able to hitchhike is also great- there are many instances in a couple of those war books I read where they talk about having a 2 day or 3 day pass from training, and being able to time it out so they can get home or to see a girl and still make it back in time using a combination of hitchhiking and trains!

Bill Crider said...

Excellent post, Jan.

Leigh Lundin said...

Nicely said, low key, no preaching. I grew up with the Indy 500 on the telly, the distinctive buzzing whine of Formula I engines droning in the background. As much of my own background as it is, I confess it’s always bothered me that it ran that particular weekend. Wouldn’t Labor Day be more appropriate?

Good memories, Jan. We’re both lucky.

Susan Rogers Cooper said...

Jan, good piece. I agree 100%. But I still don't know why my picture is in your f/b post.

Jan Grape said...

I have no idea Susan it's some how a picture to lead people to the sleuthsayers.org site. I was as surprised as you when your mug popped up. Two weeks ago when I posted my blog a picture of a gun came up.
LEIGH? ROB?

Jan Grape said...

Thanks all for your comments. I watched NBC & ABC national news and the only parade mentioned is one attended by Hillary Clinton in the town where she was. Chapaquidick? (Spelling?)

Jan Grape said...

Phil, I wish I could remember more about the visit.but I was only six and those things impressed a little girl. Then remembering taking Dad out on the highway to hitchhike left an impression. During WWII service men hitchedhiked evetywhere. What I wtote is all true except the part where my grandmother told Dad to come inside. I just know she would have said something like that. And this was my mother's mother. Maw-maw Honea.

Robert Lopresti said...

Facebook has a will of its own when it comes to illustrations. You can usually eliminate them, but you often can't choose them. Good column, by the way.