Veterans Day is a day that often seems to get overlooked by “bigger” holidays, like the 4th of July. However, having grown up and now living in a military community, Veterans Day has special meaning. And for me, Veterans Day will always be emblematic of my father.
Dad was 16 years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He lived in Bremerton, WA where the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard is based. To him, there was no doubt what his future held. On February 11, 1942, the day after his 17th birthday Dad enlisted in the Navy, following in the footsteps of his older brother, Max. Dad wanted to go on his birthday, but my grandmother demanded that he spend the special day with the family. She was frightened that she would never see her sons again. Fortunately for us (me in particular), she did!
Dad was part of what Tom Brokaw coined, “The Greatest Generation.” There was never any doubt about duty to country. Ironic as I am currently reading James Bradley’s book, “Flyboys” about WWII pilots, and as I read about them and their values, they remind me about Dad. Men and women like Dad, who put country first, duty first, and themselves in harm’s way first is what we celebrate today.
Dad never finished high school at Bremerton High. He should have been in the class of 1943. Thanks to a special program by states and the United States government, veterans like Dad have been given the opportunity to graduate from either their original high school or the one near where they live. Ironically, Dad lives near Bremerton again, however he had a dream of graduating with one of his grandchildren. In 2007, 67 years after his original graduation date, Dad attended commencement ceremonies at North Kitsap High School in Poulsbo along with his granddaughter (my oldest daughter) Mindy. It was one of the proudest moments of his life. We all felt the same way.
Veterans Day is to honor our great veterans who have served this country over the past 244 years. Today, Dad is 85 years old and is the poster child for this day. I’m proud to have him as my father, my kid’s grandfather, a hero for this country, and my hero.
© 2010 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved