Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day Tribute to an Unsung Hero

My father was the kindest, most gentle man I've ever known. He was also the bravest--but I didn't realize how brave he was until a few years before he passed away.

I had known Dad was in the Army, but other that that, little was said of his service. In our home, we didn't discuss the war or Dad's role in it.

It wasn't until I got married that I learned my father was an Army Ranger. That information was passed to me from my father-in-law. Any time my F-I-L meets another vet he asks about his service.

My F-I-L explained that as a Ranger, my dad was a true hero. My father lived with memories of his military service tucked away into a distant compartment in his mind.

Stories were never shared, photos were never shown. He may have been a hero, but he didn't want to be. He didn't want the world to descend into the chaos of the 1940s, but when the time came, Dad enlisted to serve his country.

Dad never offered any information about his service--not until a cold, gray morning in December on 1996. I was staying with my parents, caring for my mother as she was dying. One morning as I sat at the breakfast table sipping coffee, my father trudged in and sat. His eyes held pain, but it wasn't just the imminent passing of his wife.

Dad started having nightmares about his WWII service the week my mother died. He told me he was one of the few survivors of a battle on Anzio Beach in Italy. The day after the battle had subsided and the smoke had cleared, my father walked the beach leading donkeys. He spent I-don't-know-how-many-hours putting the bodies of dead soldiers on the donkeys and bringing them to an area where they could be shipped home to the states.

We sat together and cried at the horror he lived through. "All my friends were killed." He told me.

Yet my father, that truly gently soul, persevered and did his duty. He was a hero, even though he didn't want to be.

When I think of Veteran's Day and all those who served our county, my dad is first in my thoughts. He's one of the finest men I've ever known. I'm grateful for his service to our country and for the gentle, loving way he raised me.

God bless America, and God bless the men and women of the armed services who guard our freedom.

3 comments:

Leslie Lim said...

Thank you for the words of support on the post. I appreciate it.
Keep up the great work & happy blogging!

Zea
www.imarksweb.org

Megan DiMaria said...

Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words, Leslie!

Cindy Dy said...


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Macy
www.gofastek.com