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Eric's Sunday Sermon; Memorizing, Memoralizing, Memory and Memorial Day
I wonder why sunsets create such lasting memories
And we are family
My Grandpa was a sailor and fought in both World Wars if my memory serves me correctly as I do not memorize such things. Maybe he simply worked for the Navy in the second one. My grandpa was really a carpenter. Back in those days they used carpentry on Naval ships. Maybe they still do but probably just welders. I know he slept in a hammock as he gave one to my mom that she would lay in with me and tell me about Grandpa and Ma.
My father had kind of a weird father and I don’t remember them being close. And dad never showed, and grandpa never showed any kind of feeling toward each other that I knew of. My dad was like a genius with more than just two doctorates. And yet he was a pro boxer to make money to pay his way through Yale. And he did a thing with his trumpet that they did back then calling it an opening of a new building. He played to open the RCA Record building in L.A.. He introduced me to both Mae West and Roy Rogers. And there is some picture of him with Einstein. So he was a little different than my Grandpa who only worked with his hands providing for my mother and grandmother during the great depression. I do not know much but it seemed to me back in the fifties and sixties that my dad and grandpa respected each other and enjoyed each other’s company. They built a very large cabin for my mom back then.
Just writing this and thinking back brings me tears of joy that I was raised by such great men. They taught a kind of respect that is not much really seen these days but I do my best. It was not a kind that is bandied about today. It was a walk softly and carry a big stick kind. You just did not cause confrontation but if there was one, you did not throw the first punch but you had damn sure better throw the last. There absolutely was none of this new age stuff about respecting my boundaries or me just because I exist. That would be the exact antethema of their notion of respect. The grit in your gut was the only thing that commanded respect. And the respect shown to others created the respect.
I cannot express my appreciation in words, my heart is all that can speak to those fine veterans.
We are all marked by those who did not come home.
Wasn't I cute!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the lord!
And then came two other men. Men of such stature that I would dream that I could be one day be worthy of their praise and not just their love.
Emmet Dijon was one properly proud man. He retired as a Marine Sergeant I believe. I do know that he fought in world war two in the Pacific and he fought in Korea. He worked the “green chain” down at our lumber mill. At the time the most productive in the world. We lived in the largest contiguous forest of Ponderosa Pine in the world. The “green chain” as I researched later but my dad told me was for sure one of the most dangerous jobs there was. Something about yanking around 1,000 pounds of a green growth trees to put it into lumber.
I do not know the ins and outs exactly but my dad said it was something about not being able to rest in his head that he needed the extra work my dad gave him. He was our land keeper. We had over 5 acres and it needed taking care of as did my mom with six kids. Round about 5-6 Emmet was my caretaker also. While he cleared stumps and planted and got rid of rattlesnakes and wild boar I was in his hip pocket, learning what real men did.
One time our ’53 chevy truck had an issue with a creek. Emmet got out instructed his son Emmet junior to place some wood under the front tire. Emmet lifted the front of truck to get it done. I swear I was young but I saw it done.
I did a year and a half stint as a color guard for my home town. You know the scouts or servicemen who parade out and raise the flag for ceremonies or present them to widows of KIA. You see it was during Vietnam hostilities and so scouts did it. Well Emmet Junior returned home from Vietnam a decorated and revered Marine hero. He had saved as his dad before him many a marine’s life. So I got to raise the flag for his honor celebration. My God how I was proud. Emmet and son in their full dressed out with metals showing uniforms. Service to man and nation was a new motto of mine. Both men gone now but I promise what they instilled in me is not gone.
Emmet was from Louisiana. Emmet was a great man. I later learned he was in some of the first battalions fully integrated as he was a fantastic Black Man and my earliest hero. It was understood that he was a good friend to Ira Hayes.
Freedom by and through sacrifice
This day we talked of heroes
I just wish I could look in my father-laws-eyes to thank him for living long enough to give me my wife.
Look forward when memorializing the past.
And then there was the flat out man’s man and gentleman I call “Uncle Bill”, mom and dad had not brothers so they made Bill adopt us and nieces and nephews. And I understand that both my Mom and Auntie Gayle both lost their brothers during the depression for lack of care. Well it is no wonder that Auntie Gayle and Mom both became nurses and served during WWII as such together. Which is how my uncle Bill and dad met.
My dad was a doctor in the Navy. Not real anything important except being from Yale he served Admirals state side.
But Uncle Bill was a full fledged hero. He was in the Air Force. He flew 52 missions over Europe. A B-52 bomber pilot. They shot out his rear landing gear 6 times and he lost 10 rear gunners in the process. His planes shot down 20 German aircraft making him an Ace and then some. He flew 16 missions over Berlin in the height of the war.
And I knew none of this while I accepted him as my moral and gentlemen mentor. Until after graduating from my doctorate program he remained aloof to me and yet kind and gentle and a role model above all others, including my dad. He was the spirit behind my getting a doctorate in law and was my moral compass as I defended clear cut murderers and frauds. Was he more than that? Yes. Especially after Auntie Gayle died we spent hours and hours discussing such matters as morality being at the core of Jesus. He was not awesome he was super duper awesome and my biggest fan.
And he insisted that I use this crazy new technology to really get in touch and work with my dad. We did and dad and I both worked together with the new internet WHO – yes that one.
Now I am going to end this on a rather not so happy happy notion. Emmet, Dad, Uncle and Grandpa would really think you an ass for suggesting the “greatest generation”. They all held my hand and they all pointed me in good direction and that did not work for my generation. But it made my group awesome parents. My greatest generation is the one it took two generations to grow. That group in college now is awesome. Do not buy into the radicals, they have no moral compass or thesis for their movement. But our 30 somethings do. I think they are late bloomers and yet real contemplative. My elder children are and will be our greatest generation, thanks to the one that raised me.
I give this sermon in honor of all of our women who served but got no recognition even in their death.