Tuesday, December 11, 2007
A phone call set me off, this afternoon. I was the last veteran of my family. I served in the navy from Ground Hog Day in 1970 up through the end of February 1981. I entered the navy as a Seaman (E-3) and left active duty as a Lieutenant (O-3). I picked up LCDR in the reserves. My younger brother is a Viet Nam veteran. As an 18-year old, he went to Viet Nam in 1968, in time for the Tet Offensive. He was in the north at the time. He stayed for 17 months, with a break after 11 months. He was a Marine and was in artillery (105mm howitzers). My father enlisted in the navy on December 8, 1941 and served through the end of the war. He was in Leyte Gulf when the war ended, as a 2nd Class Signalman. Just like the Eastern Front, they fired off all their pyrotechnics to celebrate the end of the war. Both my uncles (husbands of my mothers two sisters) also served. One was a soldier and pushed a typewriter. My other uncle was a Marine and was wounded at Guadacanal. Both my grandfathers were in the army in 1918. My father's father served in France, where he was gassed and concussed. He was with the engineer battalion formed from the Michigan National Guard as part of the 32nd Infantry Division. My mother's father never went overseas. Both of my grandfathers had their way paid to the University of Michigan, where they received engineering degrees. My father went to the University of Michigan on the GI Bill and got his BA in Art and had started on an MA degree. He tired of school and wanted to work, so he bailed. The navy paid for my BSEE from Purdue, while I was on active duty and I used my GI Bill benefits to pay for my MS degree in Computer Science. A guy I worked with in Minnesota saw his daughter enlist in the army after September 11th. That was a common thing for parents, as young people in our present day are just as patriotic and want to fight our enemy, just as my father, uncles, and grandfathers did. We are in a war, not of our making. Our Pearl Harbor happened on the morning of September 11th, 2001. We lost 3,000 people on that morning. Most in the World Trade Center, but also at the Pentagon and in the field in Pennsylvania. We had heroes, just as they had at Pearl Harbor. I thought about the fact that my wife's uncle was working as a civilian aviation machinist at Ford Island in December 1941. Her cousin was not born yet, but her aunt and uncle lived in Honolulu. After the attack, my wife's uncle went onto the base and worked to help recover. That war lasted less than four years, but our war already has lasted longer than that. How long will we be at war? There are battles yet to be fought and enemies yet to be defeated. For better or worse, you are getting my unedited stream of consciousness.