During the holidays, my thoughts often turn to our military men and women who will likely spend their holidays far from home, whether they are in a war zone or not. I was never in the military, but my dad was, as were and in some cases, still are, brothers-in-law, nephews, and cousins. It is such a lonely feeling to think of being so far away from loved ones during the holidays, and it isn’t just about the festivities. For many spouses, and even children, it is about hoping that everything is under control back home. Worrying about things being broken down, needing maintenance, or even if there is someone to help with decorating for the holidays, are all things that are on the minds of our military men and women all the time, and especially during the holidays.
My dad was not married at the time he served in the military during World War II, but he and his brother and sisters had always played a big part in the running of the family farm, while their dad was away working on the railroad. I was reading the letters he wrote home in the days leading up to and including Christmas of 1943. Dad was always such a caring person, and he especially struggled with the idea of his mom and younger sister trying to run the farm by themselves. In Dad’s letter he expresses his concern, and then asks his brother to rent a house in town for the girls. Dad was also always concerned that they might not have enough money. He rarely spent much money on himself, saying that he didn’t really need much. That way, he could send more money home. He told his mom to use any or all of the money he sent home to save for when he got out, saying that he could always make more, and their needs were more important than a savings account.
Dad’s letters to his mom and siblings have been a treasured window into the person my dad was. He was a deeply caring man, who always took care of those he loved. Like so many other military men and women, he wished he could be home for the holidays, but he understood that he was doing something very important. He was fighting for freedom for our nation, and the nations around us who couldn’t fight for themselves. Dad’s sacrifice and the sacrifices of so many other military men and women have made so many freedoms possible, and yet, they themselves lose so much. It is something that we don’t always think about, and something I want to commend today.