(A repost from 2008, in honor of Memorial Day.)
In 1951 my parents drove from Illinois to California so that my father could go to war. My father had already fought in World War II not even 10 years before, leaving college to enter the army at age 18. Now my father was a college graduate, a husband, and a father, and he was off to Korea.
My parents speak of this time with great fondness. They'd been married just a few years, and their lives were wrapped up in James, as we all are with out first child. It was a great adventure to drive across the country, to visit the Mojave Desert and the Continental Divide, to touch the Pacific Ocean. My mother was sending her husband off to war. It is what women did.
My mother and James flew back to Illinois when my father shipped out, and my father was in Korea for a year.
Here is a picture that my mother sent to him in Korea, near the end of his tour. James is wearing an outfit my father sent that was purchased during R&R in Japan.
My father is 85 years old now, my mother 83, and James will be 60 in July. In the evenings when my parents tell stories, though, they remember every detail: the rickety hotels, the sound of the ocean, the sifting of sand between their fingers.