Once and Always

IMGIt’s said “There’s no such thing as an ex-marine”.  The same can be said of all branches of the Armed Forces.  Of my 50 plus years, I only spent 12 years with the Coast Guard, and yet, my identity, outlook, attitude and conduct still draw much from my military training and experience.  I realize not every veteran feels this way, but you can be sure the military life sticks with most of us.

This is true of a veteran’s family members as well.  Children raised in military homes are usually taught military discipline.  This is particularly noticeable to me when speaking with children of military friends. “Sir” is automatically attached to all sentences.  Children on base understand military etiquette.  When morning or evening “colors” are observed, as soon as the National Anthem or bugle call starts playing over the base PA, all children playing outside stop what they’re doing and stand facing in the direction of the main flag pole.  As children of military parents grow up, their military identity and discipline usually stay with them.  They’re usually very patriotic and many consider joining the armed forces.

I left the service shortly after our first child was born.  When our sons were old enough, I took them to see some of the ships I served on.  They understood why I identified so closely with the military and we raised them to be patriotic and to appreciate our armed forces.  I took our eldest son on a public relations cruise on Lake Michigan aboard the last ice breaker I served on.  In the early 1990’s, I watched a documentary about the 50th anniversary of D-Day.  At the memorial on the cliffs overlooking the beaches where the landings took place, survivors and family members gathered to commemorate that monumental day.  Among the crowd was a young woman wearing a WWII U.S. Army dress uniform jacket displaying several service medals.  The woman explained the jacket was her grandfather’s.  He had passed away before the anniversary and it was important to her to honor him by representing him at the memorial service.  A few days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against America, I put on my uniform and took our sons to get photos taken with me.  I remembered the young woman’s words and her longing to identify with her Army veteran grandfather.  I wanted my son’s to have a keepsake that would connect them with my military service.

Our daughter, who is much younger than her brothers, was looking through our family photos one day.  She came across the photos taken with her brothers the week of 9/11.  She had seen my uniform in the closet but had never seen me wear it.  She asked why I didn’t take a picture in my uniform with her.  Here again, she saw the connection between me and the military.  I visited the barber shop, had my uniform dry-cleaned and gathered my service ribbons and insignia.  I made arrangements with Ticia Mangino, owner of Pure Joy Studio in New Castle, to do the photography and the photos turned out beautifully!  My daughter now has a photo record showing her with her military veteran dad.  It’s important to her for the same reasons it’s important to me and to all others who have served.  It must always be remembered we were once and therefore will always be brothers and sisters in arms; veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.

© 2014 Curt Savage Media                                                                                 notwordsalone.wordpress.com

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