deception pass Washington

Category: Family

Remember

Philip Capell Wright, USN – Buried at Arlington Cemetery, October 7, 1942.

Today is a day to remember. A day to remember those who served their country in uniform and especially to memorialize those who died in the service of their country. In my family, I have nephews and nieces whose fathers served in the military. I have two great nephews who served in the military overseas, including one who did a tour of duty in Afghanistan. All of those survived their tours of duty.

My maternal great grandfather served with the Vermont 14th Regiment in the Civil War and was in the middle of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge to repel Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, turning the tide of the war. My paternal grandfather served in Europe with the American Expeditionary Force during WWI, and also served during WWII and Korea with the Army, both times with the Artillery.

My Uncle Phil served with the Navy in WWII and was killed in a plane crash while training other young men to fly. He was only 24 and had just gotten married 3 weeks before. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

All these deserve recognition for their service. However, it is wise for us to remember others, such as my Dad. When a large portion of his generation served, he could not. He had such bad eyesight that he was classified as 4-F and was unable to serve. He had to stand by and watch as his father served, as many of his friends and coworkers served, as his own brother-in-law served. I know he would have wanted to serve, but a physical condition prevented it.

I can’t imagine how it must have felt, all those years on Memorial Day, Veterans Day, 4th of July, watching the ceremonies, the parades, the tributes to veterans knowing he had not served in uniform. He served his family, raising us 5 kids to be responsible adults. He served his community by supporting education, being a trusted and appreciated employee of a local company, and being a regular blood donor.  And he served his country be voting and supporting candidates that he felt were good leaders.

In all of our remembering let us not forget those who would have served if they had just had the chance. Remember that those who served took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States—to defend us so that the “inalienable rights” and other freedoms we have in America could be preserved.

And remember when others talk strategically about war, that those troops are not just numbers on a page, but real-life flesh and blood people putting their lives on the line. Don’t ever forget that. Don’t urge rushing into war, may it be the last result.  As I walked through Arlington with all of its graves, and I saw a group of teenagers nearby, my prayer was “keep them safe from those who are too eager to go to war and toss their lives aside.”

Reinterpreting Mom

Moms, we all have them, can’t get into this world without them. We love them, remember them fondly on days like today, ride the up and down waves with them as we travel from children to adults through the maelstrom of the teenage years. They mean well and want the best for us. But sometimes the communication from their heart to our minds gets a little twisted. And of course, as teenagers we all rebel, some of us in more quiet ways.

Mom and Dad were not major rule makers, but there were a few. We all ate dinner together, no TV during dinner—of course phones in those days were attached to the wall and computers were in their infancy so no need to make rules about those distractions from normal family communication. We were told to take a little bit of everything (yes, everything) on the table and finish everything on our plate. We had to finish it all, or no dessert—and everyone wanted dessert. They were children of the Depression and food was precious so you didn’t want to waste it. And you couldn’t always get everything you wanted (war rationing) to you had to develop tastes for everything. 

Unfortunately it took my sisters and me years to overcome the compulsion of ‘eat it all.’ I struggled with “I paid for it I need to eat it or I am wasting food.” I learned that my taste buds often were seeking something satisfying and they would continue seeking even if the thing I had on my plate didn’t satisfy. So it made sense if something didn’t taste right, or I was unsatisfied, not to continue eating something, even if I had paid for it. 

I also learned to choose wisely, manage portions so I didn ‘t have as much to finish. And I learned to trust my taste buds. There are foods that I grew up on, and suffered through, that I will never buy or eat again. I have had people tell me “you just didn’t have it the right way.” No, I tried and my taste buds rejected it—I trust them.

My mom was also a worrier and sometimes overcautious. I have learned to stretch myself. There are things that I have done or do that I know my mom would worry about if she were here, but I do them anyway, just so I can grow.

I have learned to look back and realize what my mom was trying to teach me (and my sisters). She wanted us to appreciate what we had and not take it for granted. She wanted us to explore new foods and not instantly reject them. She wanted us to not be wasteful. And she worried because she loved us. I can appreciate that looking back. Teen years were not the best. I loved my parents but when I went to college I was determined to go away from home to college.

One lesson that my mom taught me I don’t have to reinterpret. She emphasized to accept everyone you encountered regardless of who they were, where they were from, what they looked or sounded like. Always expect the best of everyone. And she practiced what she preached. So that lesson has stayed with me all these years.

My mom passed away 42 years ago, but her lessons live on. If your mom is still here please let her know today that you love her. And whether she is here or passed, deal kindly with the memories. Mom’s aren’t perfect, but I think the vast majority mean well Try as you can to “reinterpret” their messages and find the growth possible there.

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