Sunday, November 14, 2010

Corrections to Veterans Post

(photo courtesy and used with permission of Emersonmade)

As a writer you always want to make sure you correctly source your work. Padre finally got around to reading my Vday Post yesterday. (Because I didn't tell him about it, really.) As a result of not having him proof read my doc., there are some holes.

In my sourcing defence, Padre came home and found me taking pics of his stuff and said: "What is all this doing out?"

"Just compiling information." click. click. click.

"Well, make sure it gets back to where it belongs." he said as he packed his work bags into the office after eying the Jewelry Boxes out of my folks bedroom.

It did look suspicious. click.

But yesterday I was called into the office where I found my Padre, here, on Flogbott! Eating an egg and toast by the computer which is off limits to the rest of us, he was a little red eyed.

I pulled up a chair and got ready for a heart to heart with Padre. A You are Welcome for writing such a beautiful, online card!!!!!

"It's every eight weeks." he said crunching on the toast.


"This computer screen is really dirty." he complained as he sprayed some cleaner onto a soft cloth and wiped down the monitor.

'Pops, that is supposed to be there. The smudges on the post. It is supposed to look like dated paper. Constitutional papyrus." I smiled.

"Well'i'll be darned." he said looking at the computer from the different focal point of his glasses.

"I can ffix that mistake, about the blood donations being every 8 NOT 6 weeks."

I went back to handwashing dishes only to be summoned again to his office.

"I was in the blankety division of Infantry 9." as if that was supposed to make all sense.

"Okay, I will correct that, too. but you were still in the 9th Infantry?"

"Well, yeah, but it's like you being in this house but part of this neighborhood and not on such and such street." as if to explain the difference as to his duties.

"I don't want to be given credit, where credit isn't due." he finally said.

"It's these little mistakes of history that can get the story wrong."

I agreed and said I'd make the corrections, that it was helicopter pads and not necessarily an airport he worked on. That his 'Hell on Wheels' patch; those usu. went on the shoulders, but General Patton thought they ought to be over the heart.

That was a side note, not a correction- but he wanted some details straight in my mind, I suppose.

With the flour sack dish towel, I sat in his office like a kid in the Principal's office. No more corrections came. But we did talk.

"It's just that these sort of thing [my tribute] should be more for people that really gave their lives, like so and so over in Fielding Memorial." he confided.

I sat there for a split second before I countered: "So, really, you aren't a Vet unless you died? That they gave more than you? Did you volunteer? But because you didn't die like so and so and Mary Lu, your mother, got to see her boy come home and your siblings and family didn't have to see you buried over there in Fielding, that isn't as good of an offering to your country?"

I guess I don't get the guilt that the soldiers who serve feel that come home with their lives.

-Guilty to be the one that got away with their lives, some spend the rest of theirs trying to "make up" for that.

I eased up on my soap box and went back to work. We talked about the stats I'd heard the other day about high risk behaviour of the soldiers that come back on furlough and that it contributes to them getting into trouble, or even worse, losing their lives.

"It's the same as it was back in my day. Those high risk individuals are that way in the first place and why they go ahead and join."

Then he shared with me a story about one of the guys he knew that was "the first to go off the cliff skiing" and offer to be the front runner in the army when they pushed forward. Which was usually high risk obviously becuase of planted land mines.

In my mind I am thinking, yeah, but didn't you follow him off that cliff?

I wanted to also bring his attention to getting stories straight by pointing out how he'd destroyed some of his one day, but it was personal and I let him shred the letters I'd brought to his desk to read when I'd gone through all the ones he sent home.

Regrettably, I'd left him alone to read them, only to return and find the last one going through the shredding machine.

his writing. his story. History.

But he hadn't recalled writing those things down, couldn't believe he'd sent them home to be read and sure as heck wasn't gonna let anyone else read them.

Instead of going in after the letters. I let the machine whhrrr to a halt. (I'd read them and was going to just go write down what he wrote in a safe place so that wouldn't be forgotten.)

Instead, I listened to him reminisce about people and wanting to take J and I somewhere to show us something.

I didn't remind him that coming home was honorable, too. Having a family and leaving a legacy that way was probably mighty fine to those that had died and a good way to honor them.

Like the day he re-buried the memories he wanted to forget, I let the silence do the talking.

Last night J colored a picture of a soldier he'd received at school, put the name of his friend on it over in Fielding and said Padre could tape it to his grave.

I snapped a photo of another grandson wearing a bomber jacket and Padre's army issued safety glasses.

This time, I'm pretty sure I have the story straighter than the first time. Revisions in writing are always a good thing.

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