Star of the day

This is the first Memorial Day weekend without having my dad around.

Despite the heartbreaking decline in his mind and body in the final couple of years, I very much enjoyed hearing the stories, often the same ones, about his days serving in the United States Navy in the South Pacific during World War II.

Some of the stories were humorous, and it always brought a smile to his face when he mentioned his nicknames aboard ship: Frenchy, for obvious reasons; and Cookie, because he was one of the ship’s cooks.

Other stories were quite harrowing. Nothing about war is good, and some of his recollections were of him tending to wounded shipmates, sometimes feeding them as if they were infants.

Still other stories involved near-death experiences. You see, the two ships on which he served for more than three years were in the thick of some of the fiercest sea and air fighting in that part of the world.

Yet Larry’s heart wasn’t hardened by the ferocity of what was going on around him. He softly spoke of when his destroyer, the U.S.S. Meade, sank an enemy submarine and he watched it rise to the surface, then slip slowly back into the ocean for the final time. With tears in his eyes he recounted how his heart broke thinking about the poor human beings aboard the doomed vessel and what they went through.

Last weekend, U.S. veterans were at the entrances to many retail stores seeking donations to help veterans in distress.

I usually get quite annoyed at the plethora of organizations that use that method of fund-raising, but when it comes to supporting our U.S. military in any way, I’ll give each time.

After always thanking each woman and man at their station, I usually receive a poppy, or Tootsie Roll as a thanks.

This year I received something quite unique and meaningful — at least to me. I was given a star cut from a U.S. flag with a card that read: “I am part of our American flag that has flown over a home in Massachusetts. I can no longer fly. The sun and winds have caused me to become tattered and torn. Please carry me as a reminder that you are not forgotten.”

The star was provided by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Taunton Junior Woman’s Club.

I salute them for such a wonderful gesture for our veterans, and the Stars and Stripes that never fails to fill me with pride and gratitude. No one taking a knee here.

I attached the star to a picture of my dad in my office. He can no longer tell his stories and the star can no longer wave in the breeze. Seems like a perfect match.

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts