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.