Memorial Day 2013 with my dad

I spent my Memorial Day this year with my father, who trained as a paratrooper in the early 1950s.  He signed up for 3 years and a few months after he was discharged, his unit was sent to Korea.  I went with him to Fayatteville and Fort Bragg this year, to participate in the All-American week the 508th Airborne hosts.  I learned alot about my dad through the experience, mostly gained from the Parade and Review of 19,000 active-duty paratroopers, who stood in formation for two hours under a relenting sun.

I knew that my father jumped from planes — that much I had learned in my childhood.  What I failed to understand is that the paratroopers jumped with a full pack, preparing to hit the ground (literally) to make immediate use of their firearms.  I mean, they were ready to engage directly into battle after falling out of the sky.  It seems that as I get older, I have a heightened appreciation of the pain it’s taken to get me to the place of privilege I enjoy today, thanks to the efforts of thousands of young people who put their lives at risk. 

Take a look at these kids in the photo.  They have been there (Afghanistan and Iraq) and back again, and back again, and back again.  This is my salute to them and all the veterans.