As we approach Memorial Day weekend, I hope that folks will remember that it's more than just the "official start of the tourist season" as many in eastern NC are all too well aware. Memorial Day has a meaning that I don't think folks should forget, and I know I never will.
My dad served 20 years in the US Marine Corps, including three tours in Vietnam. He had a brother in the Corps and two other brothers that served career stints in the US Army. My younger brother served 8 years in the USMC Reserve. Though I never served in the military, I owe a lot to dad's military experience. I was born at the Naval Hospital on Camp Lejeune and though dad retired when I was only 2 years old, I enjoyed many benefits for the first 21 years of my life, including health care and base privileges. Before dad went into assisted living I used to take him every other month to a breakfast held by the Regiment of Retired Marines. These old farts would get together for breakfast at the base All Ranks Club, have a guest speaker (usually some commanding officer or senior NCO), and do a 50/50 raffle. The proceeds were used to purchase awards for graduates of the base NCO school and other such items. It was always interesting and entertaining to listen to these guys reminisce and tell stories. It really is true, Once a Marine-Always a Marine.
I kind of miss taking dad to those breakfasts. I always hoped to win the raffle, but never did. The winner's draw was always around $100-150. I think dad probably misses seeing those guys too. To update on dad, after three weeks in the hospital and three surgeries (two brain surgeries to remove blood clots, and the third to patch a hole in his stomach after he tore his feeding tube out), he was moved to a nursing home for rehab. His therapy is going OK, but he still can't stand or walk on his own and his feeding tube is still in place. Mom hopes that he will recover to the point of being able to go back to assisted living, but at this point I'm not sure if that will happen. Mom has nine months to go until she can retire, and has cut back to working part-time at least for now. I'm going to see dad on Sunday. I don't know if he's aware that it's Memorial Day, but it's still his holiday whether he realizes it or not.