My father was born on November 11, 1924. He died June 11, 2011. Today he would have been 88 years old.
Every November 11th we would celebrate his birthday and also commemorate Veteran’s Day. He was a veteran of World War II. A Navy man who serve on minesweeper. He was no war hero, just an average guy who was transformed during those years.
My father came out of World War II and was a beneficiary of the GI Bill. Because of the GI Bill he was able to go to college. Because he went to college he had a jump start. Prior to entering the Navy he had been a high school dropout only interested in being cool. Something happened while he was in the service and he came out a different person determined to make something of himself.
A lot of Black veterans of World War II were not able to access the GI Bill. There were different racist shenanigans used in order to disqualify Black veterans from being able to obtain the benefits of the bill. Rather than coming out of World War II and going to school and eventually buying a home, Black veterans were in so many cases locked out.
Every time i hear these Republicans, including some black Republicans, talk about how government needs to stay out of the economy and how there is too much government, i think about all of those veterans who returned from the war. Had there been nothing for them, there probably would have been a continuation of the Depression. Instead there was an investment in their future, and as a result, an investment in THE future.
Since World War II, however, so many veterans have returned from conflicts and been cast aside. Veterans of my generation who served in Indochina came back from a very unpopular war, receiving very little help in adjusting. When Bush lied us into the invasion of Iraq, he at the same time cut benefits for veterans. Yet the Republicans could praise the veterans while at the same time depriving them of what they needed to rebuild their lives. The hypocrisy of this country’s elite never ceases to amaze me.
So, today i think about my father, who was my hero. I think about the life that he built for himself and our family. I think about those from the “great generation” of World War II who put their lives on the line to fight fascism. I think about those who believe that they have built their so-called “middle class” lives on their own, only to ignore ‘little’ things like the GI Bill which gave them amazing advantages.
On Veteran’s Day…on my father’s birthday…I think of various forms of courage, and i shed many tears in the process.