Saturday, September 22, 2007

Questions I Never Asked

In memory of my dad: 1917-1979

Recently I saw a TV show about the National World War II Memorial that opened in 2004 in Washington, D.C.

This memorial honors the 16 million members of the armed forces who served and the 400,000 of them who died during WWII. Its kinda hard to believe it took 60 years to get a memorial to honor all the people who fought and/or died in WWII.

My dad was one of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII. He was just a month away from being 24 years old the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

My dad never talked about the war. Not WWII or the Korean War, which he was also in. The only time he mentioned the war was one time when I was a kid looking through a photo album with him, I saw a photo of a young man at the beach. I didn't recognize this man so I asked him, "Daddy, who's this?" He said, "That's Joe. He bought it at Pearl Harbor." Then he closed the photo album (even though we were only on about page 4) and walked out of the room.

With that simple act, I learned that it probably wasn't a good idea to ask my dad about the war.

Many years after he died, I completed a form to receive records of his military service from the National Archives. For $25.00 I got a HUGE stack of papers, not surprisingly, as he was in the Navy for about 20 years. I had a great time going through the chronology of my dad's service career, and learning for the first time what battles he was involved in, what medals he earned, and much more. The $25 bucks I paid for these records was worth every cent and much more!

Of course, I am kicking myself for not asking my dad more about WWII when he was alive. However, I didn't, as I wanted to respect his privacy, and because I thought we would have many, many more years to talk about such things. However, I never counted on him dying tragically before I could ask him about so many things, and before I had a chance to tell him he was the most remarkable man I have ever known.