November 11, 2012

Thanks, Dad!

Robert A. Larson, USN em3c
November 11th commemorates the signing of the cease fire that ended the fighting on the Western Front on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. On November 11, 1919, a year after World War I ended, Armistice Day was established by President Woodrow Wilson to pay homage to the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who gave their lives in service of their country. In 1954, President Eisenhower changed the name to Veterans Day to honor all service men and women. It is a day to thank them for their bravery and their dedication to defending our freedom.

So today, I honor all of those brave men and women and I think about my dad. In fact, I think about him everyday as I stand to recite the Pledge of Allegiance with my students. I am humbled by the courage it must have taken to enlist in the Navy when he was only seventeen years old, to leave his family and travel around the world to defend our freedom. I lost my dad to mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure on the USS Salt Lake City. At Christmas time in 1995, he was a very young 71-year-old, but nine months later, he was gone. Fifty years after the war ended, it claimed my dad's life. Yet, he never regretted his service and he taught me not to either. Although I miss my dad everyday, I feel so blessed to have been his daughter. He taught me to love the water, to sail and to waterski. He taught me to enjoy each season, its beauty, its weather, its harvest. He taught me that age is just a number. He married my mom when he was 35 and stared a family at 44. Although I was adopted, I "inherited" his blue eyes and his curly hair. I like to think I inherited his gift of story telling and his love of nature. One day, I will inherit his WWII scrapbook that includes the letters he wrote home to my grandparents. Although the letters have been physically censored (holes were cut into the paper by navy censors to remove information that may have revealed his ship's location), my dad's voice is clear and playful. One day is definitely not sufficient, but today I say, "thank you" from the bottom of my heart! Thank you, Dad, I miss you and I love you. XO