A Veteran’s Legacy
He was a boy once, taught to ride ponies by his mama.
He had only one sister, no brothers, and a father who wasn’t present.
He was a boy who couldn’t breathe, lungs constricted by asthma.
He worked odd jobs to help support the family.
He was a boy who played saxophone and clarinet well.
He struggled in classes and was told he wasn’t bright.
He was a boy when he left school, not yet graduated, not yet 18.
He left school on the promise of a high school diploma.
He was too young to sign the papers.
He asked his mother for consent; she conceded, her only son would serve.
He was skinny, runt-like, at only 109 pounds, but they would take him.
He would play in the band and be trained as a medic.
He would serve in the name of his family, his friends, his country.
He served in the Navy, on the USS Yorktown, in the Pacific during WWII.
He played his saxophone and wheezed at night.
He saw action.
He saw death and pain and horror no boy of 16 or 17 should see.
He bonded with his shipmates, and they with him.
He mourned the loss of his best friend.
He swallowed his fear.
He rescued men when the ship was hit.
He was injured.
He earned medals.
He entered as a boy; he left as a man.
He said he simply did what he had to do, that they all did.
He lived in Paris after the war.
He played jazz and conversed with Jean-Paul Sartre.
He returned home to begin anew.
He went back to school on the GI bill.
He became a lawyer.
He met a woman and proposed 6 weeks later.
He married her in less than a year.
He started a family and he returned to school.
He became a psychologist.
He built a marriage, a family, and a private practice.
He became a writer.
He regularly challenged his mind; education mattered to the boy who left high school.
He teased with a dry sense of humor.
He encouraged and guided his children in their education and in life.
He traveled the world and inspired his children to do the same.
He woke with sick children, mourned the loss of a child, and assembled toys late on Christmas Eve.
He openly missed them when the last had left the nest.
He loved his children well.
He was a romantic.
He would buy her violets, the flowers she carried on their wedding day.
He called her “Doll”, and his eyes still sparkled each time he looked at her.
He would ask her, “Did I make you feel loved today?” at the end of the day.
He held her hand when they walked.
He celebrated their love.
He would share almost 50 years with her.
He loved her well.
He rarely spoke of the pain he had seen in the war or in life.
He served his country, his community, and his family.
He left a legacy of discipline, of humility, but most of all, of love.
He was a veteran, and I’m proud to say he was my father.
And, he is missed.
To all the men and women who serve and have served our country, my family and I thank you.