I decided to spend a few hours with my father this afternoon. Today is Veterans Day, and I always called my dad on this date every year. I wanted to say thank you for his service, for the sacrifices he made for his country and for our family. Then I would end the call by telling him how proud I felt to be his daughter.
He's been gone for awhile now, almost seven years. He would have been 88 this year, and more often than not I don't even think about his birthday as it comes and goes. But when Veterans Day comes around, I miss him terribly.
Back in 1999 I flew from Alabama to New York to spend a week with him. I bought a couple of blank cassettes, found a recorder and we sat down at the kitchen table. For two days we talked about his experiences during the war as part of the 82nd's 325th Glider Infantry Regiment. It was probably the most intimate time I ever had with him. This was a part of my father I never knew, and I felt like he was allowing me to see through a window into a part of his soul. I felt both privileged and humbled.
After returning home, I began the task of transcribing my father's words to paper. Because he was such a soft-spoken man, I spent hours replaying sections that weren't clear, or where strange sounding towns and cities in France and Holland and Belgium needed to be deciphered. I would call him time and again to question him or ask him to proof sections I was unsure of. Finally the day came when I took the disc to the printer and asked for 30 copies of my father's memoirs. A few weeks later I sent the first copy to him. The others went to family and a few close friends.
So back to today. I put on the tea kettle, sat back and reread the words he spoke those ten plus years ago. Then I climbed the stairs to the attic, retrieved his old canvas army bag and reread several of the letters written home from those faraway places as a young man in his early twenties.
I spent some time with my dad today. It was as if I were thanking him all over again for his service and sacrifice. And somehow I believe he knows just how proud I am to be a part of his legacy.