Monday, May 28, 2012

happy take-a-moment-to-remember day

Today, take a moment to remember the men and women who serve or have served in the armed forces. Remember those who lost their lives at war. Think about what it must be like for those who returned deeply wounded--physically, emotionally, and psychologically. And remember their families--the husbands, wives, and children whose lives will never be the same again because of what happened to them.

My father was a veteran of WWII. This is what I know about him now:

1. As a young man he left home for Austria to study for the Catholic priesthood.
2. Before the Nazi invasion of Austria, he fled and returned to the States.
3. He entered the Army, attained the rank of Captain, and was one of the first men to enter the concentration camps when they were liberated.
4. He never recovered from that experience.
5. I never knew any of this until after he passed away at the age of seventy-one...

...meaning that I never really knew my own father. I knew him as a kind-hearted, gentle, nature-loving man, an easy-going soul. But I had no insight into his emotional, spiritual, and psychological truth.

Had I known about my father’s pain, his courage, his faith, and what informed his decisions in life, I’d have been a better daughter to him, a better wife to my husband, and a better mother to my own children. I would have respected him differently, admired him more, forgiven him freely, and loved him openly. And I would have carried that same kind of respect, admiration, and affection into my other relationships.

I wish my father had told me his story. It is disturbing to think that shame, or fear, or pride may have silenced him…the way it silences so many of our men. So I have a favor to ask of all the men and women in our armed forces, and to their families:

Please tell us your story.

Share your experience and wisdom with the people who love you. It doesn’t have to be the tale of a conquering hero, or a generous benefactor, or a successful conquest. It doesn’t have to be the story of courage or strength or victory.

It will help the rest of us bear our own weaknesses, sorrows, and defeats to know how you bear yours. It will help us acknowledge our own faults and failings if we understand yours. We are connected through our shared humanity. We are separated by silence and shame.

Remember that today is NOT Happy First-Backyard-Cookout-of-the-Season Day.

Today is Memorial Day.

What story will you share with us?
I believe that what we become
depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments,
when they aren't trying to teach us."
--Umberto Eco--


  1. so well said---what a story you have here---saying hi from the az challenge--so glad i found your blog

  2. This is a beautiful touching....