My Dad died in early November, 2002, at 80 years of age. He was a WWII vet, like the fathers of so many of my baby-boomer generation. I think about my Dad all the time, but especially on Memorial Day.
This year, I noticed for the first time that there were no veterans out in the shopping malls and the stores selling red poppies. Why not? What happened? I've always bought a poppy, even when I was just a kid and I didn't even know what it meant, just because Dad said we should always remember and buy a poppy from a veteran. Even when I was a punk-butt teenager who thought she knew it all, I always bought a poppy (although I would hide it inside my purse). As I got older and learned something more about life and the world, I would seek out the veterans who'd be out on the street corners or inside shopping centers selling their poppies a few weeks before Memorial Day. But I saw no veterans selling poppies this year. Is it because so many VFW posts have closed, all their members either dead or too old to participate any more? Where are the younger veterans? Do they not care to carry on the tradition (at least, in my hometown)?
This is my Dad in his uniform (Army, enlisted man). He sure was a handsome guy. He had light blue eyes and curly hair. As a kid his hair was light blonde but it grew darker as he grew older. By the time I was born in 1951 all vestiges of his blondness had gone, leaving him with brown curly hair, but he passed on the blonde hair and blue eyes to several of my siblings. In the strange way of genetics, I inherited the "dark" streak from the Newton side of the family - olive-toned skin, dark auburn hair, brown/hazel eyes and a petite bone structure, like two of my "Italian" looking Newton aunts! My hair was always stick straight until a few years ago, I noticed a definite "frizz" starting to develop, much to my horror! Now when I wash my hair and let it dry naturally, it is quite wavy (and it frizzes in the humidity of the Wisconsin climate, eek!) A legacy from my Dad, I guess, that is showing up in my "mature" years (no comments from the peanut gallery about my age, thank you very much!)
To all of our veterans and their families, my heart is with you today. I miss my dad a lot, but I'm glad to have known him. He was a wonderful man.