a day to remember...

arlington national cemetery  ~ iPhone5 w/waterlogue app

Today is Memorial Day. 

A day set aside to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice of giving their lives in pursuit of freedom.

Both my parents served in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. My paternal grandfather served during WWII as the lead civil engineer on the Ledo Road in Burma. I have several cousin and my younger brother who served in the US Marines. I married a US Naval Academy graduate and former Naval Aviator who served during the first Gulf War. I am honored by their service but most of all moved deeply by their love of country.

They each answered the call of Duty, Honor, Country. Being a member of a family steeped in the tradition of military service, this day has always held great meaning for me. Fo the last thirteen years those feelings are even stronger.

my Dad aboard the USS Higby - waterlogue app

Thirteen years ago my father died from to Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma due to exposure to Agent Orange while serving aboard the USS Higby off the coast of Vietnam. One of his many jobs as an officer was search and rescue of our pilots that were shot down in the fight. If they were already gone, he wanted to make sure that they could send something home to the family. 

His exposure to Agent Orange came over the course of two weeks in 1965 and his death occurred some thirty-six years later. He is considered a casualty of war even though the Good Lord saw fit to grace this man with a wife, eight children and eighteen grandchildren who to this day, honor and love him even thought he is no longer with us. 

arlington national cemetery  ~ iPhone5 w/waterlogue app

Saturday my husband, two children and myself made the trip to Arlington National Cemetery where my father has the great honor to be buried. It is always an emotional day when I go see my Dad. I am told constantly how much I am like him, gregarious, faith filled, funny, and committed to family with a little side of crazy. Unfortunately for me I also look like him. I gotta tell you that his 18 inch Irishman's neck looked a lot better on him than it does on me.

My father was not a perfect man. The things he saw in Vietnam, what he experienced, stayed with him his entire life. He faced and overcame alcoholism, being laid off, financial hardship and more than one crisis of faith in his lifetime. He had a tremendous devotion to Our Blessed Mother and ST. Jude throughout it all. Every Sunday after dinner you would find all ten of us kneeling in the living room saying the rosary. 

He once said that he always wanted to be in a state of grace because you never knew when death would come. He was terrified of dying alone as so many soldier and sailors had. He wanted to be surrounded by loved ones praying, so that he would not succumb to the pain but fight bravely. 

arlington national cemetery  ~ iPhone5 w/waterlogue app
He got his wish. At 6:03 p.m. May 24, 2001, he took his last breath on this earth with his beloved wife holding one hand and his eldest (of six) sons holding the other. The room was packed with five of his eight children and their spouses. The other three of my siblings were all in the air trying to make it there before he left us. 

I will never forget the moment my mother kissed him for the last time, tears streaming down her face telling him she was honored to be his wife and she would never love another like she loved him. She told him she would see him soon. Then, she knelt down beside his bed and began saying the rosary entrusting Our Lady to carry him home to Jesus. As my mother knelt, so did her children. 

arlington national cemetery  ~ iPhone5 w/waterlogue app

In that moment every lesson my father ever taught me, every hard moment I ever witnessed him struggle, saw him fail or succeed, was burned into my soul for a lifetime. I honor him in the banner of this blog, quoting him. He taught me to fight the good fight, to never quit, to love God above all else and love your spouse with equal abandon. "You two are a team. There is no "I" in team". 

He taught me what daily sacrifice for your families greater good looked like. He taught me to accept charity with great humility and if one day I was blessed to return the favor to do so with abundant joy. He taught me that blood is thicker than water and you had better have your brother/sisters back no matter what. You could fight with one another but if someone else form the outside stepped in, the wall of "Green" was raised and none shall make it fall. 

arlington national cemetery  ~ iPhone5 w/waterlogue app

He taught me what sportsmanship looked like and humility when apologizing for a wrong. He was strong and fierce and would have given his life for any of us without a moments hesitation. He served with joy (most of the time) and never met a stranger. He loved my mother and would grab her and start dancing no matter what was happening in the house. He would sing to her all the time. Their's was a love for the ages and it continues to this day. 

On this Memorial Day, I want to thank my Mom and Dad for showing me what love of country, what love of family and what love of God really looks like. I am honored to be their daughter. I am honored to be Jerry's wife. I am blessed to be a citizen of the United States of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. 

To those who gave ALL, I thank you with a most grateful heart. To those who served, I thank you for keeping me free. 

Daddy, I love you and I miss you every day. I promise to do my best to honor your name. To love God above all and be the best wife, mother and daughter I can be. 

I know you would expect no less. 

arlington national cemetery  ~ iPhone5 w/waterlogue app

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, 
and let perpetual light shine upon them. 
May the souls of the faithful departed, 
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. 

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