First and foremost a BIG thanks to all of the Veterans out there.
Today is a day set aside for you. And even though it might not be perfect or exactly what you think it should be, please know that you have many supporters and people on your side. You are appreciated!
When the moving wall was in Dubuque my Dad started the opening ceremonies by reading a letter that I wrote to him fifteen years ago. My Dad had a difficult time getting though it and many people were teary eyed by the end of it. The Telegraph Herald wrote about it and
recently it was published in the Dubuque American Legion Post 6 newsletter. Today I wanted to share the letter with you.
Today I saw the Moving Wall. How sad, how sobering, how symbolic
the wall, we’ve been trying to tear down the one you’ve built around yourself for years. Brick by brick, year by year, we would discover a new part of you from time to time.
I am 29 years old and have been trying my whole life to figure you out, always guessing what you are thinking or feeling. I knew you never
wanted to talk about t so I never pushed the issue. When I was in grade school my teacher told you and mom that she thought I was obsessed with Vietnam because every paper I wrote was about the war and I even took your medals to show and tell. That was when the first few bricks came down from your wall and your eyes emerged. They were caring and kind and I liked what I saw.
I was born while you were at war and I was nine months old the first time you saw me. We didn’t do the father-daughter bonding thing and I
can’t find one picture of you holding me as a child. I struggled with this for many years. But as time went by, more bricks were removed and I began to see a smile emerge. A smile that was caring and kind and I liked what I saw.
God bless Mom for standing by you when no women in her right mind
would have. She held it all together and chipped away at the wall every chance she got, sometimes with a sledge hammer. When my sister Crystal was born another section of the wall came down, it was a section big enough to see your heart. It was kind and caring and I liked what I saw.
You’ve adjusted quite well over the years. I can still see the hairs stand up on your arms when a helicopter flies past and you still jump out
of your chair every year at the fireworks. But on the other hand you still take your hat off for the National Anthem and you still proudly fly the American Flag. As more bricks were removed I could see big strong hands. Hands that did kind and caring things and I liked what I saw.
You took me to the Moving Wall. I was so happy that you were by
my side and not a name on the wall. I felt sorry for all the kids that never got to meet their fathers. As we drove away I thanked God for you and tossed a few bricks of my own out the window, bricks that I carried for many years and what was left was caring and kind and I liked what I saw.
And now as the last brick is removed and your wall comes down a
man emerges, a brave and proud man. A man who is caring and kind and I like what I see.
You will always be my hero Dad.
I love you.
Keep in mind that this was written fifteen years ago! Long before
Operation We Care or the Veterans Freedom center. This guy we all know and love today is not the same man I grew up with. If you are the wife or child of a Vet and you share some of the same feelings, you are not alone. Some of us have experience in tearing down these walls. If you ever want to talk about it just let me know.
Today is for Veterans but let’s also not forget that our Veterans
have loved ones who sometimes struggle too. We need to support our military families, it’s a package deal. New studies are even showing that family members of Vets often suffer from PTSD just from living with
them. With help, encouragement and support people can change. My Dad is living proof.
About now he’s on a beach in Punta Cana sporting a Speedo and
sipping some umbrella drink. Not! He’s probably in his air conditioned room watching TV and bitching about the heat.
Oh well, Happy Veterans Day!