Our generation has members who served in Vietnam and the Gulf War. Our children have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many of us have parents or grandparents who served in Korea or in World War I or World War II. Nearly all our our lives have been touched by the commitment and sacrifice of America's veterans. I am interested to know what other boomers have done, or are doing, to honor and serve our veterans.
After both of my parents passed away, being an only child it was up to me to close up the family home. With the help of my husband, daughter & cousin, we had the garage sale, donated to charities, gave away some items and kept the rest. One box held my Dad’s Navy uniforms. I couldn’t bear to give them away, yet it seemed silly to keep them. Then one day it dawned on me, the perfect solution for my Dad’s uniforms was not to stay in the box, but to be put to use. My Dad was a character, a larger than life, funny guy with a beautiful Irish Tenor voice. My daughter, like her Poppy, loved the theater, and spent most of her high school days on or behind the stage. That’s where the uniforms belonged, in the costume department, to be filled with young energetic lives. When I donated the uniforms, which were greatly appreciated, I also gave them a photo of my Dad so the kids would know who once owned the clothes they were about to wear. The uniforms are still used. The theater department had authentic Navy dress blues etc. My Dad would have been thrilled and my daughter made another lasting contribution to her school. Yep, a perfect solution.
I'm a baby boomer so I grew up in the long shadow of WWII. It was a patriotic and hopeful time in the years following this great allied victory. Both my parents fought overseas as did 4 of my uncles. All returned home safe. As kids, we played with their uniforms and caps and medals and K-rations and whatever else we found in their trunks which were lined up in my Grandmother's garage.
I remember that when our family gathered around my grandmother's dining room table in Shawnee, OK, late night, ice clinking, cigarette smoke run amuk, sounds of crickets and curtains flapping in the hot summer breeze, occasionally there was talk about those "old" army days, esp. when my older cousins were home and considering entering the Korean Conflict. We were all so patriotic and though I don't remember exactly what was said, I am sure the reason 4 of my cousins fought in Korea is because their uncles and aunt came home from Europe steadfast in their support of our country's mission all over the world.
My parents were proud of their service but I know they had memories they could not forget. I never saw any of the horror they faced on their faces, and I respect and love them all the more for that. I really am in awe of the "Greatest Generation". I guess the post-war movies is what romanticized WWII for us Boomers. John Wayne, Audie Murphy, William Holden, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable- they all served and then they came home and re-enacted it on screen for those of us who couldn't be there! It is only recently that I wanted to learn of my parents' experiences, the good and the bad. They are both gone now so, of course, it is now that I wish to know it all. I wonder why the hell I never asked them about it. My Mother, who spent most of her service in England as a 1st Lt. in the Army Nurse Corp, passed away less than a year ago. She was honored with inurnment at Arlington National Cemetery, maybe the most sacred place on earth. It makes her children very proud. My Dad, a Paratrooper with the 82nd Airbourne, would have been thrilled and shocked to receive his dog tags which were returned to his family in 2003, protected for 60 years under just 7" of soil deep in the forests of the Ardennes where he remembered losing them during the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1943-44.
God has truly blessed this country. All over the world we continually find ourselves fighting for and defending the gift of Free Will, which He gave every human soul. November 11th is the day set aside each year as a time to remember and give thanks to all the troops. I hope you will remember their sacrifices on this Veteran's day.
On the 40th anniversary of the draft lottery for the Vietnam War, most of us Boomers can still remember how that day and the war changed the lives of so many of our generation. On December 1, 1969 our family gathered around the TV with my brother and his friends who were of draft age. My brother fortunately drew #266 and never had to serve. One of his friends, watching with us, was devastated to be assigned #14. A conscientious objector, he was soon on his way to Canada. Two years later one of my closest friends was assigned #72. Being on a brief hiatus from college, he was drafted, but fortunately did not have to serve in Vietnam. While we were lucky, so many others of our community were not. Some were killed, others were missing in action, and others came home to relive the memories and nightmares of witnessing unconscionable horror. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our Vietnam Vets who too often were maligned by the country they served. One way of giving back is to donate items to the Vietnam Veterans of America. In 30 states they will pick up your clothing and household items to sell to local thrift stores. They use the money to fund a number of programs that directly benefit Vietnam Veterans. To see what items they accept (nearly everything) and to schedule a pick up go to vva.org or call 800-882-1316.
Recently, a local National Guard unit returned from a deployment in Iraq. While gone, the American economy declined resulting in the closing of many businesses. Many of these veterans no longer have jobs. Our VFW post continues to work with organizations that help veterans and their families. If you wish to help us, visit our web page (VFWPost5702.org) or contact Doug Neralich at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The National VFW also has programs that help veterans and their families, Visit their website at VFW.org to discover ways that you can help the National VFW assist veterans and their families.
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