Dad – 1943 Ft. Bliss
November 11, 1919
It was the first Veteran’s Day – the commemoration of Armistice Day ( a day set aside to honor the vets of WWI, the Great War.) It was made a national / legal “holiday” in 1938 to honor veterans of all wars and through several modifications and alterations was sealed in stone as November 11th by President Ford.
My father was born a few months before the “end” of WWI. Following the Great War came the Great Depression. He was blessed and didn’t have as hard of a time as some, but in 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he became a sergeant. He transferred to the Air Corps and reached the rank of captain. He told me stories of his time in the military, some were funny, some not so much. But he was proud to have served and his patriotism always shone through.
As he got older he watched later generations’ patriotism melt into apathy. Maybe it happened because of the Korea / Vietnam, “wars” the United States “shouldn’t” have been involved in. (Or am I supposed to say “conflicts?” I forget.) With the age of the Cold War and heightened nuclear era, there was a new and different type of patriotism, not the age-old “Rosie the Riveter” and “Uncle Sam Wants You” type of patriotism seen with WWII. We wanted to “beat” Russia in the arms race, but it wasn’t what I would call a red,white and blue patriotic effort.
It took an act of terrorism on American soil to ignite the embers that lay dormant for so long. Americans wanted to be patriotic again. They wanted justice. They wanted to pay back the enemy, just as we did when the Japanese Imperial Navy took the lives of American soliders on a beautiful Sunday morning at Pearl Harbor.
But these weren’t soldiers who were killed.
These were everyday citizens going about their daily lives…
Lives snuffed short because someone, somewhere didn’t like what America stands for.
Over a debris field, a tattered flag was hoisted and the spirit of the American people soared anew in a wave of patriotism not seen since WWII.
What is this thing called patriotism?
One might say it’s the love, support or devotion to one’s country. Others would have a different definition and I’m not sure today exactly how dad would define it.
I would say it’s the feeling one has deep down inside when you know we live in the greatest nation on Earth and when that nation is threatened, you would wrap yourself in the red, white and blue and die to defend it.
On this Veterans Day… it’s been 70 years since this photo of my dad was taken at Fort Bliss. For all who have served (including my mother, aunts, uncles, brother, brothers in law, nephews, friends… etc!), who are still serving, or who will serve this great nation of ours, you are appreciated more than you will ever know. May you all rest easy tonight whether you are in the sandbox, sailing the seven seas, flying high across the moonless sky or wherever you may be… God Bless each and every one of you.