Monday, November 10, 2008




My Favorite Veteran
I first posted this 3 years ago. Dad is now 87, and going strong.

When I was a little boy I knew where to find the two blue boxes. I knew if I went to my parent's bedroom... opened their chest of drawers... and if I looked underneath my father's underwear... there they would be. In one navy blue box was a military medal symbolic of a sailor's inability to dodge flying shrapnel from an exploding Japanese suicide plane. In the other box was a medal symbolic of a young Hoosier farm boy's courage and devotion to duty.

When I was in high school the youth group from my church came to our house and my dad gave a talk about the war. The gist of his story was that when the bullets and the bombs begin to fly there are no atheists in the U.S. Navy. He did a great job which kind of surprised me a little because I didn't really think of Dad as a public speaker. Anyway, as a visual aid he passed around his Purple Heart. While my friends were looking at it I cornered Dad in the kitchen and said, "Dad, let me go get your Bronze Star and pass it around. That's a much neater medal." He shook his head, and without even looking at me he answered, "No no, that wouldn't be the thing to do."

The reason why I love this story about Dad so much - is that in this entire world there is only one person to whom that Bronze Star means more than it does to me. There is only one person who is prouder of that Bronze Star than I am... And that person is my father.

I don't know what makes a man so humble. Maybe it's just his upbringing and his nature. Then again, maybe it's because he saw friends blown up... and others burned horribly... and he knew that they had given more than he had. And maybe in his mind that made passing his Bronze Star around the room the wrong thing to do.

Well Dad is 84 now, and a couple years ago my mother put her foot down and got both medals out from under his underwear, framed them, and hung them on the wall along with a picture of Dad in his uniform. It makes a fine display. I sometimes look at that young man in the picture and wonder what he thought when the bombs began to fly, and what courage it took to stand his ground and do his duty.

And I think of all those young boys... in all those wars. God bless them all.

13 comments:

Bryan Alexander said...

Tell your dad thanks from all of us who never had to do what he did.

SkyePuppy said...

Thanks for posting this in your favorites, Chris. I missed it the first time around.

How different our parents' generation was from ours. They didn't talk much about what they'd seen and done and been through, while our generation shouts, "Look at me! Look what I did!"

Our generation reeks of crassness, while men like your father reveal their honor by their quiet humility.

Thank your dad for serving us. And thank your mom for putting her foot down. I love it when moms do that.

ChuckL said...

Just read this today (7/3/06). Extremely appropriate reading for this time of the year. To your account, I simply exclaim, "Amen!"

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janice said...

That's beautiful Chris, thanks for sharing.

Delta said...

Chris:

Your dad just seems like a really neat person, from what you've said in your posts. His humility speaks volumes. Both medals are noteworthy, indeed. I wonder how many other ribbons and medals he was awarded?

I say this because my stepfather (who adopted me), had a Purple Heart from Korea. After he died, it was my responsibility to seek out other information from the U.S. Army. Before I was done, I discovered "dad" had earned several medals and ribbons and awards. I never knew he was in Alaska before it was a state, or in the Philippines, or Japan. I knew he was in Korea and in Vietnam. But that was all.

This just shows the courage that speaks for itself that our parents' generation had. It seems it was enough to serve. "Dad" used to say the medals were just decoration. I say they were the bows on a great package!

To all those who have served, and to those who are now serving: I send my applause, my hugs, my thanks, and my prayers. There's just no way to tell you all you mean to so many of us! We love you, honor you, and respect you. Not just today, but everyday.

<---stepping of my soapbox now....

Tsofah said...

This is STILL a timeless article. As the daughter of a military man and Purple Heart recipient, I can appreciate the pride both medals (Bronze star...wow) mean to the two of you.

My dad has been long gone. So, I hope you don't mind if I feel a measured sense of pride vicariously through your stories about your father.

Malott said...

Thanks, Tsofah!

Grammy said...

What a wonderful story. My father was also a WWII veteran. His brother was killed in action. I think you nailed their character by using the word "humility". I think the reason they were able to do what they had to do was because they clearly understood that there was something bigger than themselves that they were serving. The idea of something bigger than ourselves is what is under attack today from many angles. When you realize that it's not all about you, the whole entitlement attitude seems silly. Your dad would be embarrassed to be "bailed out". For so many nowadays it's just expected.

Christina said...

What a handsome, brave gentleman.

Thanks for your service, Grandpa.

Grammy said...

And now we all know EXACTLY what you are going to look like when you're 87! It's all good.