Home > Life, Politics, Really? > We Remember…

We Remember…

sure1I am going to wax nostalgic about the usual Memorial Day stuff today, so I am rating this post gently. However, its actual content may not follow quite so softly. 

Memorial Day always gets me. I awoke this morning at 4 a.m., unable to sleep. I felt uneasy and my mind jostled around in my head, making my eyes pop open violently each time I tried to close them for any length of time. 

Dad15As I lay there thinking about today, I remembered a Memorial Day ceremony when I was in high school. My dad, Ray Fenner, was a minister, a WWII veteran, and a frequent guest speaker at these events. I wasn’t always inclined to listen to his stories, taking the time instead to run around with my friends, but on this day I listened. Aside from the tears it provoked, I can’t recall the details of that story — he had many from the war — but I remember walking up to him afterwards and asking “Was that a true story?” His response shattered and frightened me. Blue eyes blazing, he looked at me and said, “Don’t ever ask me that!” 

My father carried the war with him like the heavy pack he once lugged through the forests of Germany in the dead of winter. It seemed that recounting those stories about his fellow soldiers who had fallen in battle gave him the opportunity to warm his own soul by keeping their memories alive. But each visit back to that time took a toll on him.

Dad14I suppose there will always be wars. Men will always trade might for right. But even today as we struggle to find an end to an ambiguous conflict, sending men and women back to the Middle East again and again as their family lives deteriorate back at home, there are thousands of willing and proudly serving soldiers who are being drummed out of the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, the policy that prohibits homosexuals from serving openly in the armed forces.  

I never got a chance to ask my dad what he thought about that policy. He died the same year it was enacted. But I will make an educated guess, based on the kind of man he was, that he would have stood beside me in asking that all Americans who are inclined to serve and defend our country honestly and openly be allowed to do so. 

Today I honor my dad and all those men he worked so hard to remember through his accounts of their heroism. May we all be given the opportunity to be so noble. 

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Categories: Life, Politics, Really?
  1. June 9, 2009 at 12:37 am

    I feel a little haunted by the stories I don’t know… the ones my uncles, who both fought in WWII, wouldn’t tell. They were just boys then and should have been getting daily hugs from their moms and not experiencing such life altering moments. Memorial Day ceremonies are wasted on the young. At that age, it’s just a bunch of boring speeches, but they’ll get it in the future. Hopefully, it won’t be through personal experience.

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