Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made: Our times are in His hand Who saith "A whole I planned, Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!" - From "Rabbi Ben Ezra" by Robert Browning

Monday, May 25, 2009

To Honor Those Who Are Worthy of Honor

Today is Memorial Day. I'm not about to use this space for a diatribe on the political views of war and soldiering - mine or anyone else's. This isn't a day for discourse. This is a day of recognition. Today, all of us should be honoring the men and women who have served our country in the Armed Forces. Whatever our opinions or experiences with war, we should be able to give freely this one day our gratitude to all those individuals who madethe choice to fight for freedom. Whatever else we think it may be about, war, for America, is always about freedom.

Today, along with all Americans who have fought for freedom and justice around the world, I honor:

My Father: Gentry Wright

Dad joined the Army at the end of WWII, and served overseas in the occupation of Germany. He brought home a British bride. Later, he served in Korea, and did two tours in Viet Nam, serving in Military Intelligence under General William Westmoreland. Dad finally told me a couple of years ago what it is he did in Viet Nam. Once he did, I realized it was so secret, I could never tell anyone. After 21 years of service, Dad took a medical discharge in 1970, and retired to North Carolina to farm and fish. Dad has always shared many funny stories about his military experience, but stays quiet about the darker days of war. This week, at the age of 82, he finished building a greenhouse that he designed himself.

My Brother: Keith Wright

Eligible for the draft in 1968, my brother joined the Army right out of high school. Not willing to carry a gun, Keith served honorably in the medical corp, rescuing friends and fellow soldiers from the battlefield while under fire. Keith served in Viet Nam at the same time my father was there on his second tour. He did his time and came home. He never talked much about his experiences, but I know they remain with him, as they do with our father.

My Husband: John H. Alderman III

John served 10 years in the Navy, during the Cold War era. His training was extensive, as he served on nuclear submarines in missions still considered highly classified. When one of the submarines he was serving aboard hit an underwater mountain, John was credited with saving the lives of his shipmates by getting the boat operational and to the surface with the aid of the only 4 other men aboard who were free enough of injury to help. John's ingenuity and ability saved the Navy billions of dollars and his actions saved not only his shipmates, but the lives of millions of Americans. John wanted to make a career of the Navy, but left to care for his marriage and his family.

My Father-In-Law: John H. Alderman, Jr.

I never had the opportunity to meet my father-in-law. I love and respect him just the same. He served six years in the Pacific in World War II as Adjunct to Gen West in the Southern Occupational Forces in Japan under General Douglas MacArthur. As a private aboard the transport ship heading overseas, he served as head cook, commanding officers under his charge. He crawled through foxholes, fought in the Battle of Manilla, survived being run over by a tank, and five potentially fatal diseases. He saw, in hand-to-hand combat things you and I would never want to know about. While serving in the Philippines my father-in-law died and was pronounced dead. Five doctors signed his death certificate. A few short hours before his scheduled burial, he woke, removed himself from his body bag, and walked out of the morgue tent. He returned home, married, raised a son (my husband), and a daughter, and established the homestead John and I now call 5 Acre Farm.

My Son-In-Law: John H. Alderman IV

John takes his citizenship quite seriously, and believes all Americans should do the same. He is serving a distinguished career in the National Guard, currently at the rank of Major. He served honorably in Iraq with his men, whose lives he holds as dearly as his own, and is currently serving as an International Public Affairs Officer for the National Guard and Liaison between the military and locals.

My Friend: Name Withheld

I cannot give my friend's name. His work in the military has always been of a sensitive and highly classified nature. He served a distinguished career and retired last year. He now holds down the homefront so his wife can pursue her dreams and career goals.

Thank You All

My simple heartfelt thanks belong to these men, and to the millions of men and women like them, who have protected my rights and my life, and those of my family and my countrymen each day of their service. May God bless and keep you all this Memorial Day, and every day for the rest of your lives.

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