Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thanks Dad!

Our elementary school hosted a Veteran's Day assembly this afternoon. My dad, a Vietnam Vet, attended with me. The kids read stories, sang songs, and gave artwork to the Veterans to honor and thank them. Taps was played and we sang the Star Spangled Banner. This is the second year the school hosted the assembly. Both years my dad has gotten teary eyed. I have, too.

My dad volunteered for the draft. He was an Army Airborne Ranger and part of the 75th Infantry in Vietnam. He jumped out of planes into the jungle. He led hunter-killer teams. Until I was in third grade, he didn't talk about it. All we knew was that if we needed to wake him up, we were to do it from a distance. He woke up swinging.

My dad is sitting in the middle.

When I was in third grade, one of his fellow Airborne Ranger friends, John Rotundo, contacted him. We started spending almost every weekend with John and his family. The flood gates opened. In many ways, the Rotundos became my second family.

A year or two after their reunion, my dad and John got in touch with some of their other friends and they all took a trip to Washington D.C. to visit the memorial. On the trip, they encountered a book editor and John and my dad began writing about their experiences. It had to be a lot like therapy for them both. A couple years later, Charlie Rangers was published.

Even with the book, I can't fully comprehend the horror my dad witnessed and was part of. I can't imagine how difficult coming home must have been. How do you renter a society so hostile to those who served? How do you really come home?

I am so grateful to my dad for his service and his sacrafice. And, to our school for the assembly. Watching the kids line up to give their artwork to the Veterans and watching my daughter find her grandpa and give him her artwork, was heartwarming. My dad is finally getting the thank you he so deserves.

Thank you, dad and happy Veteran's Day!

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