Memorial Day

May 28, 2018   Mom and Dad, Politics
I believe the best Memorial Day address yet was given by Lieutenant General Lucien Truscott in 1945 at a military cemetery in Sicily. No full record of his actual remarks remains, only fragments as it was not written down. Truscott stepped up, waited for silence, turned his back on the crowd to face the dead and apologized. Mike Plews in The Online Photographer


My father was a career military guy. Twenty-seven years in the navy, he retired at the level of commander. He loved the military, the shared sense of purpose, the adventure, the travel, the people. And he looked great in a uniform. After he retired he never found a more satisfying career. Now he's buried in Arlington National, a cemetery that is near capacity.

He loved the military life but he didn't always agree with what they were tasked to do, and he wasn't afraid to say so. He was a bit of an iconoclast: he was an atheist in bible-belt Texas and anti-war despite being a military officer. After being stationed in Chaing Kai-shek's China he said if he were Chinese he'd likely have thrown in with Mao. My father was indeed a free thinker.

We talked about war a fair amount when I was a teenager as at that time the US military was fed by the draft and we worried about my fate should my number come up. He was faced with possibly seeing me off to a war he though was wrong or sending me out of the country, to Canada or Europe. He assured me he'd do the latter. As it turned out, the war and the draft ended and it wasn't something we had to face. But it was awfully nice knowing he had my back. Now is one of those times I wish I had a Tardis, so I could go back and see him.

Mom and dad (on the left)      

My parents met in Shanghai. It might have been at a bar like this. She was maybe twenty and he, well he was 25 years older. He was also married.

She was in Shanghai because it was her home. Angela, my mom, was born in northern China, near Harbin. Her parents were refugees from the Russian revolution. She was shortly to be a refugee, too.

Future dad, the leftmost fellow in the picture, seated next to plaid-pants future mom, grew up in Texas. He left Texas on becoming eighteen, hopping a train to the city. At the time of the picture he was in Shanghai working as an officer in the US Navy.

Not too long after this picture was taken future mom left Shanghai "on the last boat out" my father liked to say. She was on her way to the Philippines. From there she traveled to Australia. After a couple of years future dad, newly divorced, reappeared. He proposed, they married on ship, and they lived fairly happily ever after.