Memorial Day 2010

It's Memorial Day and here I sit in front of the dirty computer screen. Actually i am working, just really slow here, which is okay with me I guess. All that working in the yard the last two days has got me pretty tired.

I have been thinking about my father today, he was a WWII vet, a navy man. He was one who served but never said much about his service. He enlisted in 1944 and was on a destroyer, the USS Hawkins. They left Pearl Harbor and were on the way to Okinawa. Although they didn't know it at the time, it turned out to be one of the bloodiest  naval battles of the war. My father told me how they were on the way, in a convoy, when about one day out of Pearl, his ship had some type of electrical fire. Over the objections of the Captain, the Naval Command ordered them to turn back to Pearl, and it wasn't until later that they sailed to Japan, missing the war.

Several years ago, I went with my Dad to Gettysburg battlefield to meet with two of his navy buddies, neither of whom he had seen in over fifty years. He was always getting invitations to reunions and the like but even after the urging of my mother, he refused to go. I am not sure why he decided to go this time, but he asked me if i would mind driving him there on one spring weekend. Some time I may go into more details about the trip, but for now I will relate this story:

FLAGS OF OUR FATHERSThe three of them, the two surviving wives and I were sitting around swapping stories. Well,okay I wasn't swapping stories, I was listening and learning. I asked if it was true that the ship had really caught on fire and if so which one of them had set it. Each of them pointed to one of the others saying "I heard it was you." They began talking about the incident and how pissed the Captain and the crew were because they had to turn around, and one of them said "We were heading to Okinawa, there were a lot of boys that never came home from there. If we had gone, we might not be here now." Then the other said"But if we had to do it again, we would." These men, young boys really, my Dad was only 18 at the time, were willing to fight and die for their country because they believed in what they were fighting for. And they still believed in the cause fifty years later.

A few years later, after my Dad had passed on, I read a book, "Flags of our Fathers" by James Bradley. There was a paragraph in the book with the main character saying how, even though they now knew how bad it was, that they would go back and do it all again. Needless to say I thought of my Dad when i read that.
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