Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Celebrating My Favorite Veteran, Daddy

Today is Veteran's Day. It is a day to honor all those who have served in the branches of our military, in war and in times of peace.

My oldest son is currently working on a family history project. What I've learned is that I don't know enough about my family's history. And much is lost to us forever because many our relatives were so much older than my siblings and I that we didn't get a chance to hear all the stories (or really absorb the ones we did hear) while we were young.

But I do know that my father, who was 50 years older than me, was a Navy veteran. He served in World War II on a Naval aircraft carrier. He also served in Korea.

My father was very proud of his military service and his adopted country. You see, my father emigrated to America from his birthplace, Panama. He became a naturalized citizen while serving.

I'm sure life on board that vessel wasn't easy for my father, a man of color during a time when race relations in America were more hostile than today. Add to that that he was a Spanish-speaking man, at a time when being bilingual wasn't as cool as it is today, who had achieved only an 8th grade education. Not a bed of roses for a proud man.

But Daddy was also a hard-working man and a man of integrity so I know he did his part, without a lot of grumbling. And he made the most of the opportunities that came his way.

Daddy went on to become a dental technician when he settled in the States. Flags flew high at our home on Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Veteran's Day. Daddy taught us the proper care and handling of the American flag, and he used to let me dress up in his Naval uniforms.

We, influenced by the 1960's and 1970's of our youth, wanted nothing to do with the military, which I think disappointed Daddy greatly. Doors were opened to African-Americans in increasing numbers that had been closed before, allowing us to pursue higher education, a fact Daddy understood. What parent doesn't want more for their children? So Daddy cheered us on, even if he had little to contribute, having worked low-paying jobs to support his family and having retired from work on disability.

I still think just one of us seriously considering Annapolis would have made his day.

He and Mommy were married for over thirty years when he passed in 1986, a day shy of the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, an event he always remembered.

So on this day, as I will again in a few short weeks, on the anniversary of his death, I salute my father, Martin Luther Markham, along with all United States veterans.

Remembering still brings tears to my eyes. I miss him dearly.

Note: I've got a picture of Daddy that I'll add once I get it scanned.

Peace & Blessings,

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