Monday, March 13, 2006

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary Dad and Mom!!!

60 years ago today, my dad and mom were married. Yes, that's right 60. 6 - 0. That's a long time in anyone's book!! (Dad's typical joke when I wish them a happy anniversary is "they said it wouldn't last...").

March 13, 1946. World War II had just ended. Some of you who read this blog might not realize the signficance of that since in my humble opinion (which I highly respect and admire), they just don't teach enough about American history in school these days...especially items that some liberal policy-makers or education reformers might deem politically incorrect. Before I get off on a soap-box, let's just say that my dad survived the war, while over 290,000 American soldiers and sailors did not, having been killed in action. Another 113,842 service personnel died during the war, just not in the "war zone." Almost 672,000 were wounded. The Iraq war, while tragic, pales in comparison. Dad was a nose-gunner on a B-24 bomber flying first out of Bermuda then out of Devon, England....patrolling for German submarines over the English Channel and the Eastern Atlantic.

It almost didn't happen. Their marriage, that is. Dad was engaged to someone else first. Then WWII began and he joined the US Navy. He came home at some point on leave (not sure if it was during or after the war) and when he got off the bus in our home town the first guy he saw on the street told him his fiancee' had married someone else. "Oh well, " my dad said when he told me about, "it worked out for the best. Then I met your mom."

Dad was 22 and mom was 16 when they married. For their wedding reception, they split an 8 ounce bottled Coke. They honeymooned in Savannah, GA. Both were country folks, having "grown up" only a couple of miles from each other in North Georgia.

Dad remained in the Navy, and not too many years later, as mom recounts, she found herself with three small children (my three older brothers) living in a small apartment on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, NY while dad was at sea. Country girl, meet city life. Dad spent the vast majority of his time in the navy on Aircraft Carriers.

They moved a lot. Some of their homes included Brunswick, GA; Jacksonville, FL; Pensacola, FL; Ocean City, Maryland; Brooklyn, NY, Charlotte, NC....and Virginia Beach, VA (where I was born). There were others. Back then, they actually owned their home. When it came time to move, they'd hook it to the back of the car and tow it to their next assignment. No, not the mobile homes you see today...a better comparison would be a small RV. A lot of times, pre-kids, they simply rented rooms from someone and negotiated what they call "kitchen priveleges." They had both grown up during The Great Depression so they knew how to survive.

Dad briefly exited the navy at one point in their marriage and tried selling insurance. After a couple of years of that, he went back into the navy. I'm sure there's a story there.

Dad fought in WWII, the Korean conflict, and in the early stages of Vietnam. There is a memorial to him and other servicemen at our county courthouse. He's one of three from our county who fought in all three major "wars" of his time. Mom was always a "stay-at-home" mom, as we say now, until after dad retired.

I was born in 1965. Dad retired from the navy in 1966. I guess I was his retirement project. He's now been retired for 40 years, so I guess I've taken a lot of work for him. They bought my grandparents' farmhouse in Georgia and moved there from Virginia Beach. They've never left. It's the house in the background of the picture above, taken this past Chrismas. Three of my four children are in the picture. Noah was shy. So, while my three brothers knew nothing but constant change as they grew up, I knew nothing but stability. Dad was always home. Mom did get a job, but it was at my school, so I saw her all day.

My parents have been married through many important times in history, many presidents have come and gone. Wars have come and gone. Many of their family members have gone. Dad was the youngest of twelve children. Only two are still alive. One is in a nursing home. Many of his nieces and nephews have also died. Mom is the second-youngest of nine siblings. She was the only sister. She had only sons. Oh my. Many of her brothers are now gone. I am truly blessed that both of my parents are still alive.

My parents have four children (Mike is 58, Bill is just over 54, James is 50, and I'm 40). They have 10 grandchildren. They have one great-granddaughter and one step-great granddaughter (I think I've got that right). Three of their granddaughters are married. Big family.

Happy Anniversary Dad and Mom. Congratulations on many years of happiness. Best wishes for many more.

Big D.

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