Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Today was pretty emotional for me. Some of it was good, some bittersweet.

The good part was a combination of things, including a great feeling about some audio work I did that helped make my radio station sound great all day. It’s a country music station, so interest is always high the day after the Country Music Association Awards show and Veterans Day seems to be extra special because this music genre has so many soldier-appropriate songs. I produced the ‘warm and fuzzy’ audio pieces that played around the patriotic songs as well as the CMA winner songs. In addition, I made the audio parts for our part of a company-wide all day fundraiser for Fisher House, an organization that provides housing near medical facilities for the families of injured military personnel. That all adds up to genuine positive emotion through the day.

The bittersweet part is the memory of my Dad, who died on this date nine years ago. We had an up-and-down father-son relationship but there was never any doubt about the love, even though he could rarely find the words. Eventually we found mutual respect too and I’m not sure I ever found the words to express that while he was alive.

It is easy to remember his death day because of the holiday but there is an odd irony to that. He and I are both veterans. He served two years in the Navy. He didn’t do anything outstanding during his enlistment but he did put his life on the line for our country a few times, partly just from being in Asia right after World War II. The war was over but there were lingering factions of people who didn’t want to accept that and American soldiers were always potential targets. His other dangerous situation resulted from being on a ship in a typhoon. Many naval ships went down during that same storm but his made it through. He was one of the radar techs so his job was fairly important.

My service was totally unremarkable. I don’t share details with many people and I won’t be saying much here. But I did serve in the Army and I have plenty of respect for our military. The most serious danger I encountered was from trying to stay awake on the long drive back from my hometown New Orleans to the base in Texas after the occasional 3-day pass.

I think about Dad every day, whether I want to or not. There is evidence of him all over my house, from the furniture hand-me-downs to the tools I inherited to the vision in my mirror every morning.

So every Veterans Day I dive into the emotion pool. Some years I nearly drown. This year, fortunately, I shed the occasional tear, crack the occasional smile, savor the good parts and accept the bittersweet parts. It was an emotional day but a good day.

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Bonus … here is one the best country songs that fits today.

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