Hamburgers, humor and hope

Hate and grief in this country have worn us all down this week.

And I’ve found myself irritable and lacking patience for most everyone.

Today I left work early enough to see November sunshine warming the shoulders of several smiling senior veterans leaving a nearby Applebees’s.

I smiled too once I saw the restaurant’s sign proclaiming ‘free meals for soldiers’ who had served our nation through their military commitments.

Smiles have definitely been a rare and precious commodity this week.

Returning home right after,  I checked my email and Facebook messages.

I immediately noticed the posts and pictures honoring vets today had won in a landslide over the nasty negativity earlier in the week.

I smiled yet again.

Tonight I’ll be studying up on some of my Dad’s letters sent home during WWII.

And I’ll amuse myself with all those cartoons he scribbled on the envelopes.

He seemed to learn long ago that humor can get you through almost anything.

Maybe that’s a lesson I can finally learn as well.

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Time marches on

My sister and I divided up the ‘to do’ list when we lost Dad to Alzheimer’s.

She contacted the church and the florist.

I wrote the eulogy and called the newspaper.

After ordering the paid obituary, I made a second call to the city desk.

Dad had been heavily involved in the community over the years. My sister thought the paper might want to do a separate short write up about his passing.

I quickly received a call back from a reporter, but his initial question caught me off guard.

“So did your father serve in WWII?”

“Well, as a matter of fact he did,” I replied.

The reporter went on to explain that those soldiers who fought in WWII are dying off at a record pace. He and the rest of the staff were concerned that their great stories would be lost forever.

According to the National WWII Museum, we’re now losing veterans of the ‘big one’ at a rate of 1 every 3 minutes.

I went on to have several more conversations with the reporter about Dad’s time in the army. I provided him with several letters and cartoons that Dad sent home to Minnesota during his years in the South Pacific.

Though Dad was very proud of his community service, I know he would have been even more honored to have his stories of military service preserved for future generations.

If you see any veterans today, please share your thanks for their selfless acts.

If you encounter any WWII vets, maybe give them an extra handshake.

And ask them to share their own stories of service with you, before they’re gone forever.

What a tragic loss that would be.

One soldier: One sense of humor

As I started to clean my house tonight, I came across one of the best Christmas presents I ever received. As it’s Memorial Day tomorrow, I thought I’d take another look at the gift. It is a 105 page notebook put together 13 years ago by Mom and Dad. One created for my sister and one for me. This book details Dad’s experiences during World War II through cartoons he drew and letters he wrote to his parents back home.

The book is full of detailed description, history and humor and while reflecting the love he had for his parents. I’m impressed that my parents had the fortitude to get the book pulled together at a time when Dad was starting to show signs of his Alzheimer’s.

As I reviewed some of the pages tonight, I learned even more about Dad and what it was like to be in the South Pacific and Japan as a very young man. Dad was very fortunate, and survived his war years. But those years were not pretty, as we found later in some of the gruesome photos tucked away in a basement box. Yet somehow his humor continued to get him through the toughest days. And that may be the greatest gift that he ever received.

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