Delaney: On Remembering

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(Host) Commentator Dennis Delaney is a former Republican State Senator for whom Memorial Day is still a day of remembering.

When the gates of our memories open we can often find ourselves
surprised at what we find and indeed, how far back in time our memories
reach. I can recall my fourth birthday, for example, because I went
around telling everyone I was four years old! And I’m not quite sure why
that memory is so vivid, even after the passage of more years than I
care to admit here.

But the staying power of other memories is
clear to me, and all day today, I’ve been haunted by one I think will be
with me forever.

The time was somewhere in mid-August 1945. It
was V-J Day and the long world war had come to an end. Life was secure
once again for warriors on the killing fields of Europe and Asia. At
home, for wives and mothers, peace had returned and soon, loved ones
would return as well.

V-J Day was one of exuberance and joy but
also one where many said a prayer of gratitude that the horror was now
behind us. In the city where we lived people flocked to the churches,
spontaneously I think, to whisper their quiet prayers of thanksgiving.
My mother took me to church with her and while we were there I saw a
woman outside the church leaning on a railing – and she was crying. I
was just a little kid and I didn’t understand her tears in the midst of
so much joy so I asked my mother why the woman was sad. I recall my
mother answering very simply, saying: "She’s crying because her little
boy’s daddy is not coming home from the war."

I imagine that
must have been a bewildering – maybe a confusing moment for me – because
I knew my father was coming home, after spending most of the war as a
paratrooper in the Screaming Eagles of the famed 101 st Airborne.

today, this memory also reminds me of another part of military service
that we tend to forget – all the families, wives and mothers who wait
for a loved one’s return in both hope and fear – and those to whom a
loved one will never return, like the lady I saw at the church.

I make a trip to the Veterans’ cemetery where my father is buried. I do
that just to spend a little quiet respectful time. I also like the fact
that my mother is buried beside him. She was there for him in the
tumult and mayhem of war, and in the decades that followed. So it seems
fitting that they stay together forever – a warrior and a woman who
never quit.

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