Today is Memorial Day. A time in the United States when we honor those who paid the “ultimate sacrifice” while serving their country.
But I say there is more than one type of “military” training and more than one way to serve one’s country. I thought I would share how my family have served this country for more than 100 years…
I’m not sure if my father dreamed of going into the military when he was a young boy living near the bayous of southern Louisiana. But by 1950 he was a young man serving in the Air Force as part of the military police division. While he never served his country overseas during the Korean War, he did manage to offer up his two front teeth in a home front battle. He caught a beer bottle with his mouth one night while trying to stop a bar fight. My father adapted to the changes a military life provided but I’m not sure he was prepared for the pretty little thing who crossed his path during those war years.
My mother came from sturdy country folk living in the hills of the Ozark Mountains. Her lineage included full blooded Cherokee Indian and an ancestor who served in a distinguished Cherokee division of soldiers during the Civil War. When she was 17 and living in California, World War II broke out . My mother, who once sewed together baby bibs, geared up to do her duty for the war effort when her factory began to create war time fighting equipment. She further “served” her country by raising three children and three grandchildren to follow a “military” lifestyle while serving their country in different ways.
My brother joined the Navy once he turned 18 and served for twenty years with the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise before retiring as a Naval officer. He continued serving as a high school teacher before retiring again a few years ago.
My brother raised two of his children to become military men as well. Both followed in their father’s footsteps, joining the Navy once they graduated high school and served their country for a few years. The one on the right continues to serve during the pandemic by becoming a long haul truck driver.
My oldest sister joined the Navy a couple of years after my brother. She spent a tour serving in the southeast and married another Navy man.
And then there is MY family. My son and I both began training in the ancient art of Taekwondo years ago. It is a self-defense program based on military training and a code of ethics which promotes service of others. The two of us served our school and the children who came there for years, before my son chose to change career paths. He is now a traveling nurse serving in Missouri during this pandemic. For myself, eighteen years later I continue to serve my community…my country…in various ways. I continue to teach children how to become strong community-minded individuals who have the confidence to defend themselves should the need arise. I also serve others by supporting children’s literacy and proud to know I’ve helped donate over $130,000 worth of books to local elementary school libraries as well as worthy literary causes all over the country.
My family is steeped in decades of military duty or service to others, but it all started with my father’s decision to join the military and eventually marrying my mother. When my father died, I was put in charge of his estate and I thought it fitting he receive a 21-gun salute at his funeral. There is nothing so haunting as the echo of a military farewell to a fallen soldier, whether from the ravages of battle or the end of a long life. It will be a memory I will take with me to my own grave. Besides a heartfelt thank you for service to his country, there is only one other thing I can think of to say to my father…
Good bye, Daddy. I hope you are at peace now.
Best-selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of flash fiction, children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.