Sunday, May 27, 2012

Joe Biden's Moving Speech to Military Families

The picture above is from Chattanooga National Cemetery, where my father and mother are buried. My father was a WWII disabled veteran who served in France, Italy, Germany and Austria. He had shrapnel in his leg for which he received a purple heart, but he also contracted multiple sclerosis while training for Pacific duty at Fort Lewis. None of that made life easy for him, but if not for the military my parents would never have met.

Daddy was from Tennessee, Mama was from Kansas. They met when my father was stationed at Fort Dix and ended up on a weekend pass in Abilene. My mother, who had just graduated from high school, worked for the telephone company and it just happened to be their turn to serve coffee and doughnuts for the USO. She was a shy introvert and unsure what to do, so someone pointed to my father who was sitting looking very homesick, sunburned and sad. To her surprise, when she offered him some coffee, he looked up and gave her a dazzling smile and started talking like the extrovert he was. My mother told me she had never met anyone like him. When they got married, the Abilene newspaper called him a "hometown boy" - that's how my father could win people over. After the War, they made a life together in Tennessee, with six children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I miss them both every day, but especially on Memorial Day.

My father was a lifelong Roosevelt Democrat, and so was my mother. I once asked my mother if she voted for Eisenhower in the 50s since he was from the same hometown, and she shook her head adamently - "No," she said, "We voted for Adelaide Stevenson, who was a great man." My father never thought Eisenhower did enough for the military veterans who fought under him, and knew it wasn't an accident that suddenly his military medical pension went through as soon as Kennedy was elected into office. Both my parents despised Nixon and Reagan and saw them as power-hungry because they ran for office so many times. I can only imagine what they would say about Mitt Romney! I think they would be amazed that Obama ever got elected, and I know they would be ready to vote for him again in November.

Their influence on my life is immeasurable. They were survivors of the Great Depression, World War II, and years of raising a large family on the shoestring of Veteran's benefits. But they knew what really mattered, and I like to think they would approve of this blog and the message I'm trying to send to the world. Like them, I don't intend to give up on anything I believe in to please anyone else.

This weekend we have an incredible gift - the speech of Vice President Joe Biden to the 18th Annual TAPPS National Military Survivor Seminar. I think this speech is one of the most moving testaments to the American people and to the American military we will ever have, because he made his own grief personal and shared it with the country. God Bless Him! Did I mention that my father's name was also Joe?

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