My dad did not see action in World War II. He was a naval cadet training at Chapel Hill, North Carolina in the summer of 1945 when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. "Some kind of super bomb" was how they first heard it described. The training program was canceled once the war ended, and he came back home to finish college. I never really knew as a kid how disappointed he was not to have completed that program, until my oldest brother got his own wings as a Marine pilot and landed jets on aircraft carriers in the Pacific. That was the first time I ever saw tears in my dad's eyes, he was so proud when my brother came to the front door after he earned his wings.
I always thought it ironic that although he regretted never getting his wings, once he married my mom and they started a family, my dad never set foot on an airplane. Only after we'd all grown up and were independent, did he get on a 747 to Bermuda or to Florida.
He never got to visit Normandy where the crosses of all the D-Day soldiers mark their graves. My mother and sister did. That's a pilgrimage I hope to make one day soon, too.
For now, here's to the memory of all our soldiers everywhere, wherever they are buried, or wherever they lie. And to the men and women who serve now.