My daughters and I were talking this past week about how we miss the "old days," when their father, their grandfather and their uncle were still alive. I loved to listen to them joke around and talk about the good old days and tell tales of their youth. My father-in-law was really special to me. We had many similar interests and the same taste in books. He would often send me a package of books when he was finished reading them. He also loved cryptoquotes, another favorite of mine, and kept index cards from the daily cryptoquote in the newspaper. He was a real family man and loved nothing more than to spend time with his children and grandchildren. My father-in-law was a veteran, but never made it overseas. While his unit was on their way to Europe during World War II he was hospitalized for several months for Tuberculosis, a lung disease that claimed the lives of several of his siblings. Out of nine children, he and a younger brother were the only ones to live past the age of 30. When he recovered he was discharged from the Army and went to college on the GI Bill, becoming a teacher. Not bad for a man with a wife and four young children.
While his father did not make a career out of the military, my late husband did, serving 20 years in the Army. Before he was 30 years old he had already been stationed in Vietnam, Panama, Korea, Germany, and Alaska, and these were not counting the stateside tours. Don was proud of his 101st Airborne badge and the bronze star that he received for being wounded in action. He was proud to serve in the Army and proud to wear the uniform. My husband was a spontaneous type of person and with the Internet, was able to contact some former soldiers of the 101st Airborne. He called one veteran late one night, against my cautious, "It's 11 o'clock at night!" He and the other Vietnam vet spoke for over an hour on the phone. Another soldier that he had contacted replied with this email, "Welcome Home, Brother."
I like to think that heaven has a flag-waving welcoming committee for all those who served, and that they are all holding signs that say, "Welcome Home, Brother."