Tuesday, May 28, 2013

One in a Million.

The Greatest Generation is a term coined by journalist Tom Brokaw to describe the generation who grew up in the United States during the deprivation of the Great Depression, and then went on to fight. The men and women who lived at the time of World War II, in retrospect, seemed to have lived through a time of incredible upheaval with courage and style. 16,112,566 individuals were members of the United States armed forces during World War II. In November 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that approximately 1,462,809 American veterans from this war were still living. On Memorial Day 2013, my Dad is among the living veterans. I always known him to be at least one in a million!

As a kid growing up in Lakewood, Ohio, (a West Side suburb of Cleveland), it was a special occasions when Dad took us to the movies. I remember one such occasion at the Detroit Theater on a Saturday afternoon in 1962 to see The Longest Day. The movie tells the story of the D-Day invasion of Normandy in WWII. It was a retelling of June 6, 1944 (based on a book published in 1959) from the perspectives of dozens of characters and was almost three hours long. I was seven.
In hindsight, my father who was just about 42 years old at the time and sitting in that movie theater with us. He had served in the U.S. Army for four years with distinction but was lucky enough to stay out of harms’s way. I suppose he was probably still trying to make sense of the period of time in his own life. Meanwhile, I was having trouble staying awake through the multiple parallel story lines staring actors like John Wayne, Henry Fonda and Robert Mitchum.

My Dad will be 95 in July and he still remembers his army years. He attended Officer Candidate School (OCS), worked with camouflage units and generally was a good soldier. The experiences helped define him as a person. After the war he joined an art studio and eventually started his own business. Mom and Dad has six children (I was number 3). A Great man by any measure.

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