Memorial day, 1992
It was just announced on the radio that the annual Memorial Day Parade in new York City has been cancelled–due to lack of interest. One organizer of the parade, a WWII veteran, said that the parade had become so small in recent years, that it was “an insult to the memory of those who fought.”
It is inevitable, I suppose, that with the passing of time, people will lose interest. Most of my generation has a lousy sense of history anyway, and I wonder if to many of my contemporaries, the Second World War seems ancient history, irrelevant to our lives today.
But not to me. Daddy, I don’t know if you realize this, but I am so damn proud of you! That’s why I ask so many questions about your experiences overseas; I really want to understand what you went through. I know I’ll never be able to fully understand–I’ve read enough about war to know that the horror of war can never be comprehended by someone who has never seen combat. I hope my questions don’t stir up painful memories for you. Some things are best left in the past, forgotten.
But I am 23 now; when you were my age you were in the war. I can’t imagine you, at my age, landing on Omaha Beach, living through the Battle of the Bulge. I admire the courage and strength that brought you through the war, and I love you even more for it. You are an incredible person to have survived the “war to end all wars” and kept your decency and humanity.
And I thank you. Because you were willing to risk giving what Abraham Lincoln called “the last full measure of devotion,” because you risked your life for your country, today I am an American. Because of you I have grown up in freedom, and because of you, someday your grandchildren will also.
Some may forget. But I shall never forget. You will always be a hero to me. And someday I will tell your granchildren all about their grandpa, who was a hero in the biggest, most horrible war ever fought. And they will tell their children. I promise, your sacrifice for us will NEVER be forgotten.
I love you very much.