Saturday, May 24, 2008

For the Love of the Coast Guard

The 1940's and the United States was embroiled in the second World War. Unfortunately for many, the Draft was in effect.

During this time, a young man from Massachusetts had his heart set on joining the Coast Guard. It was all he ever wanted. He visited the Coast Guard recruiting office and was told that he was underweight, yes underweight, and was told to go home and eat bananas to put on some more weight. Sadly before he could return to the Coast Guard recruiter and sign the enlistment papers, he was drafted by the United States Army. He was a serviceman, but not the type he longed to be. Dutifully he fought for his country overseas and has amazing and frightening stories he won't even share in a lady's presence--always the consummate gentleman.

He met the love of his life somewhere around this time and they married and had four children. Those children beget them 6 great-children, and those grand-children have so far provided four great-great grandchildren to this particular family tree. Through the years of working in the civilian world and raising a family and contributing to his beloved community, this man, this would-be sailor never lost sight of his true passion. He remained true to his United States Coast Guard. Though, he never served within its ranks, he demonstrates and has demonstrated a pride in this service as if he were a 20 or 30 year veteran. He studied and still reads the history, follows the news and events of today and even volunteers his time at the U.S. Coast Guard Heritage Museum in Barnstable, Massachusetts.

Perhaps the love this man has always had for the USCG planted a seed in his grandson's head long ago, unbeknownst to him of course. You see, the grandson, when he was about 21, decided to join the Coast Guard. What joy the boy's decision brought to the former soldier. It was as if he was making the man's dreams come true. Before the young man went to bootcamp, his grandfather brought him to a beach on Cape Cod one day and told his grandson for the very first time about his near miss with the Coast Guard and he told the young man how proud he was that his grandson was now going to live the dream he tried to live so many years before. The boy's grandparents would proudly display certificates, awards and photos of their grandson in their home. They regaled their friends with the tales of the boy's travels and beamed as they heard about each advancement.

Many years have passed since that day on the beach. The boy, now a grown man with a wife and children, continues to serve the Coast Guard proudly. The grandfather still beams with pride and lives vicariously through the sea stories and ashore tales of his grandson. Watching the two talk, you can almost see the elder man transported back to his own youth, his passion for the Coast Guard reignited. If you pay attention, you'll notice the chest of the younger man stick out a little more as he sits up a little straighter and holds his head a little higher--his own pride and passion renewed and refueled. He loves the sea, his job, and the life he himself only started by chance. I'm proud to call the grandson my husband.

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My husband's grandfather sends us cards and notes thanking us for our service to our country. Can you imagine? A WWII veteran takes the time to thank us for our simple service to this great country. Neither of us have served actively in a conflict or war. We are not heroes.

This Memorial Day, I found myself teary eyed as I watched footage and heard speeches about lives lost in battle. Words can never express the gratitude our Nation has for the men and women who served so bravely and the sacrifices they made. We must honor them always such to preserve their spirit and also to remind ourselves that their lives were not lost and their sacrifices were not made in vain. Finally, for whatever or whomever kept my husband's grandfather safe and alive during his time at war, I am eternally grateful. If things had been different, I might not be sitting here sharing with you a tale of two men and their love for the United States Coast Guard.

* - * - * - *

All we have of freedom, all we use or know -This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.

Rudyard Kipling (1899)

* A special thanks to my husband who collaborated with me on this story.


Amber said...

What a beautiful story. Your grandfather-in-law sounds like quite the amazing man.

Who I Am said...

What an amazing story. Thank you both for sharing that and tell your grandfather thank you for his support and service!