Monday, May 30, 2016

It's Memorial Day...And I Am Grateful

Another Memorial Day comes to a close. Another year I stayed with my commitment to watch "Band of Brothers." As I was doing so, I struggled with the niggling that says I am wasting time. But I steeled myself against those wretched voices and watched and wept and concentrated on every scene. Can too much appreciation, gratitude, and respect be paid to the men and women who gave so much? Shouldn't we know their story? Can't we weep for those who had no one to weep for them?

My dad, Burleigh Vernon Shorey, was a Navy Submarine Veteran. His battles were with the Japanese. He was also a Plank Member on the Pintato. Years ago, I climbed down into the same model submarine, a steel tube, where Dad sacrificed a good chunk of his teenage years. He was 5'11" tall, and I am 5'9". Stooped over, I took the tour through cold, narrow, gray, steel corridors lined with tubing and valves. Thick heavy bulkhead doors were open. Squatting lower I stepped through the oval openings. I remember thinking, "How in the world did those men endure these cramped quarters? What went through their minds as depth charges rained down on them, exploding and rocking their boat from stem to stern? Did I even have a clue as to the meaning of courage and sacrifice?"

Just outside the torpedo tubes was my father's bunk. Every 8 hours a new shift of weary, nerve-wracked sailers crawled into the shared racks for some shut-eye. I won't even begin to try to explain how uncomfortable they looked, except to say, their beds were stacked atop torpedoes whose noses were stuffed with TNT?

Toward the end of his life, Dad opened up about memories that for decades he had sealed away in his memory vault. Reader...few of us today have any idea about what it means to sacrifice. Those brave men and women who died to secure freedom have nothing to apologize for, and we have no reason to be anything but grateful.

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