It was something on the news channel. I’m not exactly sure which story it was – something about serving in the military. SP asked if everyone had to serve in the army and go to war. Grandpa and I explained to him that when he turned 18 he would be required to register with the department that was in charge of protecting our country. That is one of the rules of being a US citizen. And the registration meant that if the US needed you to fight for the country, they might have to draw names from those who had registered, and then if your name was drawn, you would be drafted into service. For a kid, sometimes concepts are hard to understand, and sometimes too much information is given.
But it got me thinking. I was sitting in a little restaurant in Anchorage one morning several weeks ago, having breakfast with Dad and Mom. Dad had finished pulling out his chair, found a place to hang his cane, took off his coat and hat. We all sat down to enjoy a meal. At some point during our meal, a gentleman stopped by the table, with his family hoovering in the background. He told Dad that he just wanted to thank him for all he had done. My Dad looked at the man with a little half smile and a question in his eyes. The man told Dad that he had noticed Dad’s hat. It happened to be one that Dad rarely leaves home without – his WWII, Korea, and Vietnam Wars Veteran cap. The gentleman, who himself was no spring chicken, told Dad that he had also served in Vietnam, and he just wanted to thank Dad for serving his country during 3 wars. It made me feel good, so I am sure it made Dad’s day.
I wasn’t born during WWII or the Korean War. I was in 7th grade when Dad was sent to Vietnam. I can remember it as being a very hard year without Dad, both in terms of the terror us four girls had of losing Dad, but also just living without his presence. Mom or us girls mowed the lawn. Mom learned how to drive. Mom will tell you to this day that she only had two quarters to rub together at the end of each month.
It was awesome to get a letter from Dad. He would write to Mom, of course, but he also wrote to each of us girls. I can remember giving a report at school about Vietnam and using the Vietnamese money that Dad had sent me in one of those letters. I can remember watching the Bob Hope Show in the hopes of seeing my Dad in the crowd of soldiers. Of course I didn’t see him, but just the thought of maybe seeing him was a good hope. Mom flew to California to meet Dad when he returned to the states, and I can remember all four of us girls lined up in the living room window, waiting for them to pull into the driveway.
In varying degrees, we are all aware of the sacrifices that our soldiers make for this country. But I think many of us may not realize all of the sacrifices made by families all over these United States; like the concept of the draft for 8 year old SP, it is hard to conceptualize how many lives can be impacted by a soldier’s service.
I’ve heard that our senior citizens at the Father Ishmail Gromoff Senior Center are planning to send holiday packages to our soldiers fighting for our country. Let’s all help them out by donating either money or goodies for the packages.