It's not that I don't think about my dad. I do - every day. But there are some days when I feel his loss a bit more keenly. Veteran's Day is always one of those days.
It didn't used to be. Until Twinks was in first grade, that is. That was the first year that we found ourselves sitting on the hard bleachers in the elementary school gym, video camera trained on the little Twinkster, watching her proudly salute the local veterans who were seated as the guests of honor for the program. Suddenly I realized that my dad should have been there. That if he were alive, he too would be sitting down there, beaming at Twinks for all he was worth.
Daddy was a Korean War Vet. He died before they began to raise money for the KWV memorial; he never made much of his service to his country, regardless. He felt it was his duty, and his honor to serve America whenever, wherever she needed him to go, but he would never discuss it much. He was wounded in battle, and then treated at a M.A.S.H. unit, and finally shipped home.
He continued to serve America through his work, right up until his untimely death in 1990. He was a aeronautical/aerospace engineer, and he worked for and with NASA and the USAF extensively as both a sub-contractor & consultant. His career spanned everything from the Redstone Rocket to the Shuttle, as well as the F-4 Phantoms to the B-1B. Any bird, anywhere was the family motto. Some of my friends were "military brats; I used to joke that I was like a military brat - just without the PX privileges.
After 9/11, as a country we seemed to rediscover Veteran's Day. Every year since she was in first grade, Twinks school has had a grander, and grander celebration. Huge, multimedia events that finally grew so large that the gym could no longer hold them, and the entire school would travel by bus to a local Mega-Church that could accommodate the children, the Veterans and the audience.
Every year, I find myself wishing that my dad could see this. That he could have lived long enough to see that American servicemen and women are being appreciated, as they should be. I wish that he could have lived long enough to hear some of the applause for himself, and to learn as so many other veterans have, that his service to our country really is appreciated, even if it was in "the war that wasn't" - the "police action" that sure as hell felt like a war to those who were there.
There are a great many reasons why my daddy was my hero. One of the reasons - just one - is because he was a Veteran.
If you are, or have served our Country in any branch of the Armed Forces, please know that our family truly appreciates your service to our Country. Not just today, but every day. Thank you.