Reposted from May 31, 2004, on what I think about on Memorial Day:
I'm taking the time to remember my father today. He fought in the Second World War as an infantryman. He was "just" one of the mudfaces.
Like many veterans, he almost never talked about what happened to him during the war. In fact, he only mentioned the war twice all the time I knew him. The first time was, well, a long time ago when my older brother, Glenn, once reproached my father for not going camping with him. Glenn was a pretty active Boy Scout as a kid. My father replied that Glenn "knew damn well he'd done all his camping thirty years ago, and he'd had his fill of it then."
The other time was when I quoted Heinlein to him once: "Get your first shot off fast. This throws the other man off, and gives you time to aim your second shot." Well, it turns out that's almost exactly how it happened. My father was on patrol in some European town when he came around one corner of a building exactly the same time a German soldier came around the opposite corner. Both were surprised. Both fired; both missed. The only reason I'm here today is that the poor German still had an older bolt-action rifle, while my father had his trusty M1 Garand, so all dad had to do was aim, and squeeze...
And that's what my dad did during the war.
My father, Allen Trueman Tompkins, was born in February 1925, so he was pretty young when he joined the Army. I can't ask him when he actually joined, since he died of cancer over 20 years ago.
So this is in thanks, and in memory of my father and all his brethren who suffered bad camping, terrible times, and death, all in service of our country.
I miss you, dad.
There's some other things you should see today. One of them is the list of 72 reasons why the Marine Corps Moms find today especially important.
Update for 2005:
Greyhawk includes some Sacred Words, quoting letters from Iraq. He also has a nice list of Memorial Day posts from other blogs.
John of Arrgggh! also resurrects last year's post, wherein he puts a face on the soldier's sacrifice, in the person of 2LT Cowherd.
It's nearly 3:00 PM now, so I'll finish with a link to Blackfive, who includes the words to Taps in his reflection.
Day Is Done,
Gone the Sun,
From the Earth,
From the Hill,
From the Sky,
All Is Well,
God Is Nigh