Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veteran's Day 11.11.11

Words cannot even begin to express the amount of gratitude I feel for our Veteran's... My dad served in Vietnam, and it is only recently that he has felt comfortable enough to tell us some of the stories from his time spent in the hell of his station there. He is the only surviving member of his platoon - his supervisor noticed my dad was sitting down a lot on one of his watches, and knowing that my dad never sat down and was always on the move, the Sergeant or Major or whatever he was had my dad checked out by the medics. Turns out he had malaria, and consequently he was sent home. That same day, his entire platoon was killed, including that wonderful boss that had noticed my dad was ill. Yes, all of them. And my dad would have been killed right along with them, had he not come down with malaria and had he not had that guardian angel watching over him. Thanks to that man, I'm here today, along with my own babies.

I know my dad is haunted by what he went through in Vietnam. I can't even imagine the horror of what he saw and lived through. Yet my dad is a rare success - it is a miracle he isn't an alcoholic or drug addict, which is sadly what happens to so many of our Veterans as they try to hide from that emotional pain. My dad could have easily fallen into those traps of despair, but thankfully, he didn't. He's been married for over 40 years to the same woman (my beloved mother, of course), he provided and raised for his family (two kids, me being the oldest), and he was able to push all those memories out of his head and live his life as a cattle rancher. What my dad did do was become a workaholic, which he still is today. So really, he succumbed to the same disease, but a different "drug of choice." For my dad, work is his comfort.

And now, my dad has prostate cancer. We found out about three weeks ago. Thankfully, they caught it early, and his chances of recovery and survival are really good. As far as cancers go, prostate cancer is apparently one of the better ones to have, whatever that means... He is like all the Vietnam Veterans who were exposed to that awful Agent Orange. I guess almost every single Vietnam Veteran has some form of cancer from this awful chemical. And I've heard all our Desert Storm troops are dealing with the same thing, because Saddam Hussein sprayed them with the same chemical. What a horrible act of evil...!

In any case, I am so proud of my dad for what he's done with his life, for what he's been through and for how he's survived. He's always been the underdog, and he's always done his best. Thanks to him, I have a college degree - he took an enormous amount of pride in paying for every cent of my higher education. So I dedicate this blog post to my dad, who has always been there for me and who is the greatest example of a survivor I know. He likes to make fun of himself and say he was always "the angel of the family." Yes, he was a classic middle child and more rowdy than he perhaps should have been. Truth be told, though, he was an angel to countless Americans, and to his family, as well. My dad and every single Veteran is an angel, and I hope they can somehow find the appreciation they so deserve for everything they've done for America, the greatest nation on God's green earth.

Happy Veteran's Day, 11.11.11, Dad. Thanks for everything you've done for me and for our great nation. I love you.

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