Enlistment?

Last night my son told me that he was planning on enlisting in the military after high school.

He has been talking about it for the last couple of weeks ever since we started watching a Vietnam War series on public TV.

My dad was in the Vietnam War.

Times have changed a lot since the 1960’s.

But really have times changed that much?? After watching several episodes about the Vietnam War, it really hit me for the first time how hard the 60’s were. A president assassinated, political unrest throughout the country, violent war protests, young men drafted…

Times were tough for my family then…My dad went off to war while my mother went off to college..While her then boyfriend was at war, her mother died. She had to tell my dad in a letter…he missed the funeral. My mom’s college finals were cancelled because of bomb scares and there were violent war protests out in the streets. My dad saw his buddies die next to him. I can’t even imagine.

My grandparents had to send their only child off to war…My great-grandparents sent their only grandchild off to war…several decades before that all of their children were in the military for WWII.

Today was my grandpa’s birthday. He passed away the year my son was born. Even though they did not have the opportunity to get to know each other, they are a lot alike. My grandpa was full of piss and vinegar. Before I was born, he was a bit of a bad ass. He rode around on his Harley with a cigarette hanging from his mouth. Although he was a small man, people didn’t mess with him. He wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believed in. My grandma was the only one that could tame him.

I see my grandpa in my son.

My grandparents were wonderful people. They are a big part of the reason why I am sitting here typing this today. They insulated me. I would be a huge mess of a person if they weren’t a big part of my life growing up.

I feel proud of my son. I think this is the right move for him. He would thrive with the structure and discipline the military would offer him. It’s just the mom in me that feels worried.

 

Grace uncommon, part 2

Aunt Grace only wore navy blue. She was a part of the Navy military reserves (WAVES) in WWII.

Aunt Grace, like me, was a firstborn with three younger brothers. They were also close in age like I am with my brothers. When her brothers all joined the military in WWII, Aunt Grace joined too. She joined in a time that it was uncommon and perhaps frowned upon for women to serve. But that never stopped Aunt Grace. She was patriotic down to the core.

She decorated her house with a nautical theme. She loved lighthouses, anchors, and anything with the Navy emblem on it. Strange enough, however, I have never seen her swim or ride on a boat.

Aunt Grace was proud of her time in the military. She bought everything that she could having to do with the WAVES. She bought mugs, shirts, and any military novels she could get her hands on. She wrote letters to the women that she served with, but I never had the chance to meet them.

When it was time for the WAVES 45th reunion, it was in our area so I went along. I was very young so I don’t remember a lot of the speakers or the meal. I just remember Grace smiling a lot as she drank her coffee. She bought us all reunion shirts. My grandma went out to eat one time wearing that shirt and a stranger paid for her meal with the note attached saying thanks for serving our country. My grandma never served, it was all Aunt Grace.

Over time, the WAVES group grew smaller and smaller. After Aunt Grace and her brothers passed away, my parents donated their uniforms to the local historical society. I never told her that I was proud of her, I was too young at the time to understand. I can’t remember ever meeting any other women of her time that served. When at events that veterans were asked to stand to acknowledge their service, Aunt Grace was always the only woman in the room that stood up.

Aunt Grace was uncommon.