Offer a prayer for peace.
Veterans Day ~ 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month
When my father was 18, he enlisted in the army--something he felt compelled to do in order to defend his country during WWII. Before he left, he married the little Irish lass of his dreams, telling her, "I'll be back in a year." So Mary waited... for her husband to return home, for her life as his bride to begin... and for the birth of their first child. The baby boy was born nine months after the wedding... nine months after my father left for Europe. So Mary continued to wait for her husband, so that she could introduce him to their son. Another nine months passed. The baby became ill... and died. My father never met his son. Still the war kept him far from his family, from his wife. As the long months stretched into years, Mary, bereft in the absence of her husband, the loss of her son, craved the comfort of a man's strong arms, and so she wrote a letter similar to those read by so many men during wartime who cannot return home: "I love you... but I must let you go." Losing her, I believe, was the single biggest sacrifice my father made in his lifetime... one he never fully recovered from.
And yet... He was never bitter toward his country. He remained a strong patriot to the end of his life. His grandparents had come to this land from Ireland and had found here all the freedom and prosperity they'd dreamt of. They began a legacy of patriotism and service that was passed down to their children, to their children's children.
This past Fourth of July (my birthday), I went to my father's grave, stood next to his headstone, and sang his favorite song, "Danny Boy."
"And I shall hear as soft you tread above me,
And all my dreams shall warm and sweeter be...
If you'll not fail to tell me that you love me,
I'll simply sleep in peace until you come to me...."
Let us not fail to tell those we love how much we appreciate the sacrifices they have made so that we could continue to live in the land of the free, the home of the brave.
~ S. Kay Murphy
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