Why does Memorial Day hit me so hard?

By Jim Eddy

Memorial Day, it’s always a difficult weekend for me. I sometimes don’t know why really, I wasn’t in the service; I wasn’t a member of the armed forces, so why does it hit me so hard?

I was born into the U.S. Navy in 1952; it’s the only life I knew until I was 25. My dad was a US Naval Academy 1939 graduate and a Pearl Harbor survivor.

Through those 25 years I met WWII survivors, navy pilots, admirals, navy divers, generals, sailors, marines, army personnel, Air Force personnel, Viet Nam vets, Blue Angels, and GI’s who had seen the worst battles ever. I lived in Washington, D.C. and stood solemnly at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier as a young boy. My father took me to the rusty and submerged remains of the USS Arizona prior to the existence of the memorial when I was in the first grade.

To be the son of a U.S. Navy Captain was an experience that is an honor. I visited aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, and battleships. During those visits the members and crew of the ships treated me with dignity and respect, not to mention the ice cream in the mess hall. I will never forget those days I had as a child and teenager.

When my parents had cocktail parties, the visiting Admirals or Generals asked especially to view my ship and airplane models. They were honestly interested in my model building interests. A returning Viet Nam Marine corporal helped me to build my first car. And last, but by no means least, my father was a survivor, a skipper, and my personal navy veteran.

His passing included a 21-gun salute and military funeral. So Memorial Day to me is all of these wonderful memories and the wonderful military personnel I had the pleasure to meet in my younger years. It is so much more than one can ever imagine, military life–it’s a life of its own, and for U.S. military brats we feel it deep, even years after our folks are gone, we still feel that feeling.

Happy Memorial Day to all of the veterans and my fellow and current military BRATS, who willingly went/go where we are told to go and always keep/kept our fear at bay when our mom or dad is/was deployed.

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