I am currently writing a book about my father, who besides being my personal hero, was a WW2 combat bomber pilot who logged 70 missions over Italy in B-25 medium bombers. Those of us old enough to know much of anything about that war think in terms of the operations in France and Germany, and of course, in the Pacific, but the Mediterranean Theater, which included North Africa, Sicily and all of Italy was one of the toughest challenges for the Allies. First, stopping the advance of the Desert Fox, then pushing the Germans back across the sea, then up the mountainous backbone of Italy. The 321st Group that my father was assigned to carried a large portion of this effort, mainly taking out railroad and roadway bridges to cut supply lines, hitting fuel dumps and of course taking out German barracks and defense areas. My father was highly decorated, but like most vets of all wars, he seldom said much about his ordeals.
The other gentleman I wish to remember today is my late wife’s father. Conrad Buqua Tennyson was an African American drafted into the Army at the ripe “old age” of 34. Being black in the American Army of those days meant you were segregated and assigned the dirtiest and most physical kinds of duty typically, unless you were a musician, which gave you a big leg up. I only met Mr. Tennyson once for just a few minutes, not knowing it would be our last visit. He was actually a “Buffalo Soldier,” assigned to the unit that historically carried that designation. He was a stretcher bearer, getting the injured and the dead off the field, engulfed in the battles for Guadalcanal and other islands. I cannot imagine the horror he witnessed. Somehow he survived and returned to his bride who had given him a pair of knitted socks before he shipped out, telling him he better bring those socks back, and he did. Like my own father, he was a family man, and raised the girl who would become my wife, taking care of his family till his health failed.
There is a major point that I want to leave the reader with today. Our military is a mere reflection of our society, with all of its good and all of its bad aspects. Throughout the military history of the United States, non-whites, and now today LGBTQ people, have had to carry not only the challenge of being a good sailor, soldier or airman, but the personal challenge of dealing with bullshit from racists and haters. Yet, those of color and those who are LGBTQ continue to join and continue to fight for THEIR country. Many, many of these people have given life and limb and part of their mind as a sacrifice for their nation. Today let’s remember ALL people, of all persuasions, and think about what they gave so much for, and try to find a way made up of little daily ways, to assure them that this country is truly getting better and is worth fighting for.
To my father, we miss you daily.
I chose the photo of flowers instead of one with flags that is commonly used for this day, for the reason that those who gave so much do live on in all of us, and this Nation will bloom every year because of their sacrifices.