I’m exhausted from a weekend of meetings, church, rehearsals and a bit of writing. so here with the first cup of coffee my thoughts may not be all that coherent.
Today is Veteran’s Day and we honor those men and women who served and protected our country. Some paid the ultimate sacrifice.
I never served in the military. Graduating high school just three years after the end of the Vietnam War (you do the math), my generation didn’t feel the same urgency of the call to serve our country. Many of my classmates did serve, and post college I toyed with the idea, but never followed through. While I try not to live with regrets, I know that having served would have made me a better man.
But today I honor the memory of my father, Marvin V. Fletcher, Jr. He served in the U.S. Army in Germany and Korea, joining just after the end of World War II. While in Germany he also played with the Army band in the movie The Big Lift starring Montgomery Clift. My father died far too young at the age of 49. I still miss him.
His brother, James, also served in the Army and made it his life career. We lost Uncle James in 1983. James is a family name that somehow skipped my generation, my son now carries the name in honor of those who went before.
My mother’s father, Reese Melvin Russell, served in World War I where he was exposed to nerve gas. I never knew him. He died before my mother graduated from high school. His journal, compiled and edited by his oldest daughter Frances, now resides as part of the Veteran’s History Project at the Library of Congress.
We lost Aunt Frances yesterday. She was somewhere in her 90s, I’m not sure we ever quite knew her real age, but her health had been steadily declining. She was the last of my mother’s siblings and, while they talked daily (sometimes several times a day), time and distance and health kept them from seeing each other on a regular basis.
Frances was a writer who always felt that she needed to live near the beach. My earliest memories of the ocean are visiting her apartment in Ocean View and going to the amusement park there. As I am writer who longs to live at the shore, there’s a bit of a spiritual connection that remains. Frances was one of the most loving and giving individuals I’ve ever known. Never blessed with wealth, she would graciously share what she had. She managed to blend the quirky and somewhat exotic with the genuine heart and graciousness of someone born and raised in Southwest Virginia.
I’ve been sad since I heard of her passing. But no tears came until this morning when I went to find the link for my grandfather’s diary. She is missed. She didn’t want a service of remembrance. But I have to travel to Virginia Beach later today for work tomorrow. I hope to find some time to walk on the beach and tell her goodbye.
Life is way too busy right now, with work, rehearsals, writing (both writing that pays as well as Nanowrimo), auditions and yard work.
Veteran’s Day gives us a chance to pause and remember. Today I remember those who have served and those I have loved.
Photo by Chloe Benko-Prieur via Unsplash