Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On Veteran's Day

I don't post to FaceBook very often and indeed, it's been a study in making myself check it everyday. But today with all the photos of dads and spouses honoring their service, I posted one of my dad's portraits.

He joined the Army Air Corps right out of high school, hoping to be a pilot. He didn't know that what would keep him from his dream was a condition he was born with and didn't know he had: he was colorblind. Daddy saw shades of gray, he once told me, and knew that certain shades were what people called red. Or green. Or blue.

Colorblind men couldn't be pilots. The service offered to release him. It was 1940. He did not (did not, did not!) want to go back to the farm, so he waited for six weeks until the mechanics school began. In the meantime, he drove the camp doctor on his rounds to the outlying brothels. For a young man, straight off the Pennsylvania farm, I'm sure it was quite an education.

He excelled as an airplane mechanic and eventually spent the war trailing Patton across Europe with his crew. Daddy was the youngest and the one in charge. He told us stories, the fun stories, I think, until we were grown and time had eased and then we heard the ones that weren't so fun.

Over 20 years ago, I asked him to make me a video tape of his life. He did, three hours of memories, of talking to a video camera. He would lean over and switch it off sometimes, often on the verge of tears when he talked about his mother and some aspects of his youth. But he stopped at 18, at entering the service, and he would never go on.

Love you, Daddy, now gone to rest for over two years. Thank you for everything.


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