Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Today we celebrated the sacrifices made by all of those who have served our country and died preserving our freedom.  For me it's always a day filled with tears and sadness for all of the families who have lost loved ones to war.  The stories that are told on television programs stop me in my tracks and cause me to be thankful that someone else stepped up when called upon.

I have always been proud that my father served our country during World War II as a Merchant Marine.  A lot of people have never heard of the Merchant Marines or their contributions to the military effort over the years.  He was a Canadian citizen when he joined the Merchant Marine so there was some confusion over which ship he could serve on:  British, Canadian, or U.S.  Eventually he shipped out and headed across the Atlantic Ocean, his Liberty ship loaded with landing craft, airplanes, and members of the Armed Guard.  After a one day delay due to bad weather, my Dad's ship arrived at Omaha Beach at 6:30 in the morning on June 6th, 1944.  He never really talked about what went on that day.  I know he saw a lot of carnage.

One of his jobs was passing shells up to an Armed Guard who was manning one of the 5" guns.  He turned toward the stern of the ship and was struck by shrapnel in his chin -- the result of a Canadian ship being bombed 200 feet away.  June 21st was my grandmother's birthday and my Dad didn't want her to know he'd been injured so she didn't find out until he came home.  After his ship was torpedoed in late June, he spent more than 5 months in Cardiff, Wales, while the ship was in dry dock.  My Dad loved the sea and probably would have remained with the Merchant Marine, had he not met my mother.

Today Kevin and I went out the the cemetery and could not get over how many people were there.  It was amazing!  The cemetery had lined their main roads with flags and every where you turned you saw small flags and floral displays marking the graves of service people, including my Dad's.

I found that hat for him on Ebay, of all places, and it arrived the day before he underwent surgery for esophageal cancer.  After he recovered he was so proud to wear that hat.  People would stop him and shake his hand and thank him for his service and he would beam.

There were a lot of statues and monuments throughout the cemetery grounds.  I never knew.  One that was particularly beautiful was the World War II monument~~

And here is one of the more current memorials ~~

We took Maggie with us and she got to visit her 'grandpa's' grave too.

It was a lucky day for her -- I don't usually let her ride in my T&C.  We came home and were immediately invited over to my next door neighbor's for lunch.  That would be the Royal Canadian Legion Hall neighbors.  Lunch was delicious and Stacy saw to it that we were treated to a couple of glasses of draft beer too.  She sent us home with food for dinner so it was a day off for me!

I did get some knitting done today and if I finish the denim bag tonight I'll post the pictures. 

I hope you've had a great holiday weekend and had the chance to reflect on the true meaning of the day.

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