Veteran’s Day 2014. The day was quiet. Snow and deep chill had disrupted the warm autumn to remind us that life can be harsh and brittle. We were persistant in our offices, each of us plugging away at a myriad of tasks. We knew it was Veteran’s Day and we were thinking about it without even knowing we were thinking about it. Funny how days like this work.
Rick Diaz, our co-worker, had posted photos from his eight years of service on Facebook and I had pondered the youthful expressions caught by the camera in places like Baghdad and South Korea. Mike Sheridan, our veracious volunteer and jack of all trades, meandered in to check on us before he went to the parade. His hat was adorned with military pins and memorabilia from his Navy days. Dennis Ryan was running out to do an arduous day of transfering data and installing software at a business, but he announced in his rush that his father was in the Airforce during WWII and three brothers and one sister had served for many years since. Karlyle Walker, our web developer, was going to try and visit his 93 year old grandfather and ask for more stories about his time as a mechanic and gunner in the Pacific. His Irish grandfather, Edward Prendergast, was shot down in the Pacific Theater and had floated on the ocean for a week before being rescued. Andy was thinking about his parents. His father, Jerome Pizer had won a purple heart in duty and his mother, Irene Marie Randant was a military nurse. My father had been shot down over Germany and spent several years in Stalog 17 Prison Camp. Our emails and social networks were brimming with images of the Vets that had played some role in our lives: Vets like April and Michael Lage, who live ordinary lives with a powerfully extraordinary spirit, despite the troubles that have come their way.
Yes. Veterans were on every mind in the office.
It’s complicated to think about soldiers and wars. Sentimentality or nationalistic fervor has never served humans or history very well. In our nation, a veteran commits suicide nearly every hour of each day and many are homeless. And as a technology company, we owe much to war. Technology leaps during war like a bionic cougar. From its blood it births gifts such as computers, radios, drones, GPS, internet, radar, stealth aircraft and countless other advances we take for granted. No, there is nothing simple about a Veteran’s Day reflection.
I had posted a brief tribute of sorts to my father on Facebook. I offer it to you and the veterans in your life. — Jinx Davis
Quiet Whispers to My Father and All Veterans
I can never really know you. I will never unravel your story of surviving Nazi prison camp. I will never know how it feels to drop bombs over cities. I will never feel the exhaustion you felt while on the Death March across Germany. I will never be as afraid of German Shepards as you were. I will never wake up screaming the way I heard you scream. I will never see the human images you had to bear. I will never rise from the fire in the way you rose. I will never face my shadows the way you had to face your own. I will never see as much ugliness as you saw. I will never have to hold hands with evil the way you did. I will never hold dying friends and strangers the way you held them.
I will never. You did. You are my father. You are all our mothers and fathers.