Today is Memorial Day...I think that over the years people have equated Memorial Day with picnics, taking the boat out to the lake, camping and the "official start of summer". Although it was originally established on May 30th, it was later (in 1968) moved to the last Monday of the month of May to ensure a three day weekend. This is probably one of the reasons people look at it as more of a "fun weekend" holiday. But I don't want to lose sight of the real reason for the holiday.
My family has a lot of ties to the military:
- My Grandfather Heinrich joined the U.S. Navy when he met some American sailors on the U.S.S. Brooklyn on tour in China. At the time he was playing in the German Holly Symphony Orchestra, on a Lloyd Lines ocean liner which was docked next to the Naval gunboat in China. He left everything behind in East Germany, including his parents, brothers & sisters and accepted the American sailors' invitation to join with them and continue their tour. He served during the Boxer Rebellion the Philippines Insurrection and WWI.
- My Grandfather Graves was a Navy Seabee and served during the duration of WWII. The Seabees built bases, bridges, roadways & airstrips during war times.
- My grandmother Pommaz was one of the women referred to as a "Rosie the Riveter" during World War II, working in the factories and at Douglas Aircraft to help out in the absence of the men who went off to war. (I know this isn't technically military but I count it as helping out during war time.)
- My father joined what was then known as the Army Air Corps (later separated out as the Air Force, it's own branch) right at the end of high school and went over seas to England & Germany at the end of World War II.
- My mother's brother, my Uncle Frank served in the Army, enlisting after high school around 1953.
- My mother's cousin Arland served in the Korean War as a soldier in the Army.
- My sister's husband Chuck served several terms in the Marine Corps and then later served for one term in the Army.
- My ex sister-in-law Karen (my brother's ex-wife) served in the Navy. (Thanks again for the Navy boondock boots in high school!) ;)
- My step-brother Matt has served for 24 years in the Air Force. He's been to Iraq at least two times that I know of. I think he's retiring soon.
- My sister's daughter is now currently serving in the Army National Guard.
A few family members tried to serve in the military but for various reasons weren't able to:
- My mother's other brother, my Uncle David ("Fred") enlisted but was sent home after just a few days because of his heart.
- My father's brother Carl tried to enlist in the Army but was turned down because of a punctured ear drum. Undeterred, he then also tried to enlist in the Navy AND the Marine Corps but was turned down by both because of the same thing.
Their hearts were in it but their bodies wouldn't let them...
I couldn't be more proud of all of these family members that have done their part over the years to protect and serve our country. Luckily none of these family members were lost during war time or any training. I know may others out there aren't as fortunate. Let's not forget those who gave their lives for our country.
Happy Memorial Day.