“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
~ President John F. Kennedy
Freedom is never free. This Memorial Day I want to say thank you to all the men and women who have fought and died, giving the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our country remains free. And to all the of the soldiers, past and present, thank you for your service, your dedication and the sacrifices you and your families have made on behalf of us, our country and for Freedom. It’s a day to cherish family and give thanks for the wonderful privilege of living in such a great country. It’s about the honor, duty and sacrifice of so many American families, just like mine.
The year was 1953, the world was still reeling from the end of World War II, Dwight D. Eisenhower was the newly elected President and the Korean War was being fought. All young men of that time period were required to register for the military Selective Service; so upon his eighteenth birthday my father dutifully completed his registration card. Around that same time he also met my mother and they fell in love. Following a year-long courtship, they were married in February of 1953. My mother had just turned seventeen and my father was two weeks shy of his nineteenth birthday.
After their first year of marriage they were eager to begin their family and tried desperately to have children. But that greatly desired child never came. They continued to hope and pray for a family of their own, but after the third year of trying, they lost hope and decided they were destined to be childless.
In the early part of 1956, my father received his Order to Report for Induction; he had been drafted. He was to report to the Fort Ord U.S. Army post in Monterey Bay, California for basic training. My mother was heartbroken. How was she going to make it without him? So they did what all young couples in love do when faced with an unwanted separation, they made the best of it. They spent as much time together as they could until the day came for my father to depart for basic training. My mother wrote him every day and missed him terribly, so terribly she began to get ill. It seemed everything she ate made her immediately nauseous. This went on for a couple of weeks until her family suggested she might be pregnant. What? Could this be possible?
A trip to the Doctor confirmed her families suspicions and gave my mother the blessed news; she was in fact pregnant. Excitedly, she contacted my father in California to relay the news. They were both overjoyed! Then reality set in. She would have to carry and birth this child alone. The plans they had made for her to come out to California and live in the on-base family housing were dashed. She was too sick to travel. Summer turned to fall and my father completed his basic training. Then he received his orders; he would be deployed to Germany.
Somehow, he was allowed a short leave for Christmas. My mother was overjoyed to see him one last time before he was shipped out and they spent a glorious Christmas holiday together. Shortly after Christmas, my father had to returned to his military duty. The Army allowed him to stay Stateside until my brother Monte was born on January 15, 1957. My father learned of my brother’s birth via telegram and the next day he was on a plane to New York. Once he arrived in New York, he boarded a ship and began his trip overseas.
My father was a good soldier and soon was promoted to the position of Military Police or MP. He and my mother carried on their relationship via mail. They wrote to each other almost daily. My father got to know his first born son by reading letters and looking at photographs. While serving his country, my father missed all of my brothers milestones. When my brother got his first haircut, my mother tuck a lock of his hair in with the photo and letter she sent to dad. My brother’s first tooth, first Christmas, first steps and first birthday passed while my father was on patrol in snowy Würzburg, Germany.
My father honorably completed his military assignment and finally returned home to my mother and oldest brother Monte in the Spring of 1958… Nine months later my brother Randy was born. And a few years later, I came along.
Although my parents made great sacrifices during this difficult time, God poured out his blessings upon their lives. What seemed like tragedy was actually a gift. My mother thought she could never have children, but was blessed with three. And while my father was serving his country, my mother had my oldest brother to love, care for and keep her company.
After 59 years of marriage, my parents are still madly in love with each other. Our roles are reversed and I now have the honor of caring for them, just as they have cared for me all these years. I am so thankful my life is at a point where I am able to devote my time to them and truly enjoy our time together. They are the best parents a child could ever have and I love them dearly!