Monday is WAY MORE than a Day Off
Posted by Mr. Dean Borland, SCMS, CUDE, Unknown, Unknown on 5/26/2017

Monday, May 29, is Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday designated for remembering the people who died serving in this country’s armed forces. But, for me, it is also a time to remember those who served and came home.

I never served in the military. When my lottery number was drawn in 1969 is was obvious that I would not be drafted into service. At that time the U.S. was fully engaged in the Viet Nam conflict. I asked my Dad if he thought I should enlist. He said, “No, go on to college. I served for our family.”

My Dad was quite, with a quick wit and a sly sense of humor. He was very much one of the “Greatest Generation” as Tom Brokaw was to later label Americans who grew up during the Great Depression and went on to fight in World War II. Totally command and control, he was a strict disciplinarian, but I didn’t know much about his military service.

Late in my Dad’s life I accompanied he and Mom on a trip to San Francisco. During a bay cruise we became separated on the boat. Dad was in his late 70s and a bit wobbly. Concerned, I struck out to find him. When I spotted Dad, he was sitting on a bench with a young Asian couple. As I approached they stood, bowed politely, and parted ways. I overheard their final words, all spoken in Japanese.

I didn’t know Dad spoke Japanese. When I asked about it he simply said, “They are on their honeymoon. And this is their first trip to the U.S. I was telling them about the things we have been doing in San Francisco.” But Dad, were you speaking Japanese?”  “Yes, I learned it in the Army. It is pretty easy to speak but I never learned to read or write.” And that is all he would say about that.

When Dad was near end-stage I was alone with him in his hospital room. We were watching a TV documentary about current day Okinawa. As we watched Dad said, “I crawled all the way across that island on my belly.” “You never stood up even once?” I asked. “Nope,” he replied, “those that stood up are still there.” Dad made it across Okinawa but he was “sick” when he was extracted and spent some time in a military hospital on Guam before being discharged.

I later learned that Dad was a non-commissioned intelligence officer and one of General McArthur’s couriers. He never spoke of it. “Lose lips sink ships.” He said those who spoke of it were probably not there.

There are times when I felt guilty about not serving in the military, but I understand what Dad meant when he said, “I served for our family.” And he told me enough that I understand and respect the sacrifices that he and many, many proud Americans have made and continue to make to preserve our freedom. Just know, they may not talk about it, but that does not mean their sacrifices are not real.

In all, over 651 thousand Americans have died – approximately 1 in every 50 who have served – during a time of war. Please take time out to remember our fallen on Memorial Day. And, while you are at it, remember to thank the living for their willingness to put their lives in jeopardy to preserve our freedom.

Comments (1)
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Posted by Alison Barksdale, AVP of Mktg, CU Members Mortgage on 6/9/2017 1:52 PM:
Thank you Dean for sharing this story. Thanks to your dad and all the other many Veterans who sacrificed so much for our freedom!
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