My father was proudly a member of the greatest generation. Born into the Great Depression, he and his family knew the hardships of this perilous time in our Nation’s history. He was always grateful to FDR for helping to save a nation from this economic black hole. He, like so many teenagers of his time, was rescued from the hopelessness and apathy that economic hard times can engender, by involvement in the Civilian Conservation Corps. Providing work and hearty meals, he worked on various projects here in Orange County, including bridges in San Clemente. Raised near downtown Los Angeles, he fell in love with the pristine beauty of Laguna Beach in the 1930’s, as well as the charm of San Juan Capistrano.
All of this was shattered on December 7th, 1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the entrance of the United States into the Second World War. Within no time, Dad was proudly drafted and eventually served as a Staff Sargent in the Army deployed to the South Pacific. Since he was in his latter 20’s when he was drafted, his army comrades, many of whom were 18 and 19 years of age, often referred to him as ‘pops.’ While dad rarely spoke of the inevitable horrors of war, preferring to gloss over ‘those parts of his remembrances,’ he often spoke of the brotherhood among his buddies that sustained him during what seemed like endless months away from his newly married wife and newborn daughter, my sister, Melinda. I fondly remember his recounting how beautiful the beaches were on the South Pacific islands of the Marianas, islands of the Kwajalein Atoll, Saipan and Guam. Very little if any words were spoken of the bloody battles endured and the deaths of so many of these young men fighting to secure peace for our world that had been torn apart by despots. Thankfully, Dad was one of the lucky ones, honorably discharged shortly before VJ Day, and returning safe and sound to the loving and grateful arms of his wife, daughter and family. I came along in 1948!
Every Memorial Day, I cannot help but think of Dad and his faithful service to our country. For the men and women who have served our beloved country in whatever branch of the military, in whatever War or conflict in which our country has been engaged down through the decades, we honor their memory and service this day with gratitude. For our service men and women, political partisanship gives way to a common passionate commitment to preserving and defending the ideals and values that have made our Nation both good and great. We honor and reverence their memory this day!