Well, he would have been 93 years old today. But, Dad’s been gone several years now. All of his kin and friends have passed on by now. His daughter and I are the only people left who pause and think of him on this day. How come it is that the older I get the more I miss my Dad. I suppose it may be that facing my own mortality brings it a little closer to home. Or perhaps since my life just isn’t as busy as it used to be, I have more time to ponder about things gone by. I don’t know why it is; I just miss him.
Dad came from what is often referred to as the Greatest Generation. He lived his adolescent years struggling through the lean years of the depression. Funny thing is though, he never really knew it was all that bad. He grew up in it and learned to deal with it, so much so that he had fond memories of all the good times. He lived through the experience of World War II. He knew what it was for an entire nation to pull together for a common cause. When his generation read the news reports about the wounded and dying on some island in the Pacific, they didn’t march in the streets and curse the politicians. No, they tightened their belts and did something to help win the war. They truly believed in paying the price for a cause that was right, even if that price was death.
Dad did more than tighten his belt, donate to a metal drive, or observe the ration books. As a young man he volunteered to fight for a cause he believed in. He became one of what he believed, until and including the day he died, was the greatest fighting group in the world. He became a US Marine. He fought the Japanese in the Pacific Theater of the War. Only to him, they weren’t Japanese; they were Japs. That may sound bigoted, but tough. I sorta believe he paid the price for that little piece of bigotry, if that’s what it is. He watched his buddies burn to death in a burning tank on Okinawa. He saw wave after wave of suicide charges of frenzied Japanese soldiers hurling themselves at him with the sole purpose of killing him. He killed men—so many that he lost count. Of the company of Marines who landed on Okinawa, my Dad and a couple of others were the only ones who escaped being killed or wounded. He saw things and did things I will never be able to comprehend.
And out of that nightmare he came home and pieced together a life that included a wife, kids, and career. He carried scars with him through his life, caused by his experiences in the War. But, they never got in his way of loving us and providing for us. And even though I can’t remember ever hearing my dad say, “I love you,” I know he did. He showed me in a thousand ways. And more than that he was proud of me. Thank you Dad; I needed that. He was always bigger than life. He was my hero. And although later in life I realized he was not perfect and had flaws of his own, he was still my hero—always was; and always will be. Yeah, I still really miss you, Dad.