Veterans Day, 2015



        Happy Veterans Day to all who served, giving their time, and often their health and their lives, in the service of their countries. 

        Veterans Day always makes me remember something that happened when I was a Docent at the Civil War Museum in Philadelphia.  It was an interesting place, originally started by an association of retired Union Army officers, who donated their collections of memorabilia, much of it legendary. As they died off, the house in which they met was established as the museum. 

        People often came to look up relatives or ancestors (I found two of mine, and it was like meeting old friends) and research for theses or novels (as did I).   

        I enjoyed the time, and the collections themselves had interesting stories, some of them sad, some of them very amusing.

        I remember one afternoon, though, when I paused to speak with another docent.  He was laughing at something that had just happened. 

        “Oh, someone came in and wanted to look up his great-grandfather or someone.  Said he’d served in the Union Navy!  He wanted to know about the fellow, find the name of his ship.” 

        “Did you find him?” I asked, remembering how hard it had been to find Josef Myers of Ohio, my great-great grandfather. 

        “I certainly did.”  The other was laughing.  “Yeah, I found him!  Hah!  He spent the entire war assigned to a ship that stayed in Philadelphia.” 

        I frowned, but said nothing more.  I did mention it to my father, who had served as a naval officer in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.  Dad, bless him, summarized things in his usual pithy fashion. 

        “He thought that was laughable?” Dad said.  “I bet he never served.  Listen: that man went where he was sent and did what he had to do.  He had no say in whether they were fighting other ships or enforcing the blockade.  For all he knew he might have been sent into battle at any moment.  He was a veteran, with no reason to hang his head and feel foolish.  I hope that fellow was proud of his grandfather, no matter what that idiot said!”

Ah, Dad!  I still miss you.  Happy Veterans Day to all who served.