The Fourth of July, Independence Day, also marks the 70th anniversary of my father’s induction into the U.S. Navy, on July 4, 1942.
I never did ask my father, now deceased, why a 16-year-old kid (he lied about his age) from a poor mining town in southeastern Kentucky who had never seen the ocean in his life decided to join the Navy.
My father served in World War II on a small carrier in the Atlantic and then an LST in the Pacific. He also served in Korea on a supply ship, and finished his 30½-year career with tours in Vietnam, an early tour on a carrier and finishing it on a destroyer tender in the late 1960s.
Just before my father died, we were having a Fourth of July barbecue, and it occurred to me that we had never really honored his service in the military because, like most WWII veterans, he never talked about it — nor did he ask or expect it. So on that day, I toasted my father before my wife, children and siblings.
He broke down in tears, leaving me in tears, and then my son — three generations sobbing for this man and all the others who risked their lives to protect our freedom.
My heartfelt thanks to all of you.