Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

Though only 1100 people lived in the town where I grew up, everyone wore a poppy and everyone honored the service of living and dead members of the military on Memorial and Veterans Days.  I like this poster because it looks to be from shortly after World War I, the war that my father, Dr. James Harrison Sowers, served in as part of the Army Dental Corps.  I suspect this photo is from his college graduation or from his graduation from dental school at the University of Iowa.

By the time my sister and I were born, my father was in his late fifties and we were just coming out of World War II. He managed memories of that war by story-telling, at least the humorous parts and the parts that highlighted the discipline of the Army.  We learned to make our beds with square corners, so flat that a quarter could be bounced off it.  We were taught the Army song, to salute, to turn out and to march. He let us use his Army blanket for picnics and tea parties.

Stored away in Doc's Army footlocker were other souvenirs from his time in the corps, including a terrific black and white photo of his corps, which hung in his dental office for some of my childhood.  He was a lifelong member of both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, for whom we sold the poppies made by veterans.

Doc was buried in the cemetery in Buffalo Center overlooking the rich cornfields of northern Iowa with a formal military salute in 1970.

I am glad that he came home from that war and, later, as a widower, married my mother and had two daughters.  So many did not come home from that war, or all the wars that have followed.  If you see someone offering you a poppy today, take it in memory of someone you know who served our country in the military. Or on behalf of the thousands who no longer have anyone left to remember them.

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