Friday, November 11, 2011

A toast for Veterans Day

While we're celebrating the return of basketball with a Carolina game on an aircraft carrier in San Diego, let's pause for a toast to the folks who will get up tomorrow and go to work aboard the Vinson, and their past and present comrades in arms.

Raising a glass here are members of the "black gang" of LST708, in San Diego en route to the Pacific in December 1944. Language Czarina's dad, Joe, is second from left. They had, as you don't have to imagine, a fairly dangerous year ahead, but it was at least finite. On this day in 1945, Joe was at Guam and waiting for the carrier that would take him back to the States.

Joe had worked at one of the Ford plants and spent a little time training as a cook, but after the war he wasn't interested in working indoors, so he got a job at the city cemetery. He stayed there until he retired as superintendent, and when he died -- 60 years after the photo above was taken, give or take a few days -- that's where he was buried.

I had a chance to wave to Joe for Veterans Day, because I took the kitties in for a checkup. We use the same vet that they used even before Language Czarina came along, and it's -- literally -- across Main Street from his corner of the cemetery. You don't need the flags to know Joe has a lot of company. You can brush away the leaves and see all the wars that people and their families remember.

Many ordinary-seeming people we run across in our ordinary lives have done very extraordinary things. I hope journalists always remember that, but that's a special case of hoping that everyone always remembers that.



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