"So tell me, what is it that you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life?"
--Mary Oliver

Friday, May 26, 2006

a letter to my father

Memorial day, 1992
1 am

Dear Daddy,
It was just announced on the radio that the annual Memorial Day Parade in new York City has been cancelled--due to lack of interest. One organizer of the parade, a WWII veteran, said that the parade had become so small in recent years, that it was "an insult to the memory of those who fought."
It is inevitable, I suppose, that with the passing of time, people will lose interest. Most of my generation has a lousy sense of history anyway, and I wonder if to many of my contemporaries, the Second World War seems ancient history, irrelevant to our lives today.
But not to me. Daddy, I don't know if you realize this, but I am so damn proud of you! That's why I ask so many questions about your experiences overseas; I really want to understand what you went through. I know I'll never be able to fully understand--I've read enough about war to know that the horror of war can never be comprehended by someone who has never seen combat. I hope my questions don't stir up painful memories for you. Some things are best left in the past, forgotten.
But I am 23 now; when you were my age you were in the war. I can't imagine you, at my age, landing on Omaha Beach, living through the Battle of the Bulge. I admire the courage and strength that brought you through the war, and I love you even more for it. You are an incredible person to have survived the "war to end all wars" and kept your decency and humanity.
And I thank you. Because you were willing to risk giving what Abraham Lincoln called "the last full measure of devotion," because you risked your life for your country, today I am an American. Because of you I have grown up in freedom, and because of you, someday your grandchildren will also.

Some may forget. But I shall never forget. You will always be a hero to me. And someday I will tell your granchildren all about their grandpa, who was a hero in the biggest, most horrible war ever fought. And they will tell their children. I promise, your sacrifice for us will NEVER be forgotten.

I love you very much.


Although I couldn't know it at the time, that would be our last Memorial Day together. My father, Leonard Resch, died suddenly on January 12, 1993, of a massive heart attack. He was 73.

Aerial View

World War II Memorial, Washington D.C.

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