When Papa was a jes' a straplin' Mississippi boy, big fer 15, he went to war. Soon after, he had his birthday--in Pearl Harbor, celebrated with shrapnel in his laig, a Purple Heart at 16.
From theah Papa went on to the Pacific, where horrors Marines doan never tell marked his mind and soul. You knows when ya look in they eyes...a 1000 year old man in a kid's body.
War made men of boys when it didn't kill'em. And they came home to live in the freedom they won when they lost their innocence. And many had saved they own sons from war, and son's sons too, the men to come fer generations. But they didn't know it then, those boy-men who jes' "did what we had to do."
A handome lad stands in a bunker. The sun challenges a sober eye,
the bunker's edge casting a shadow over the other half of his face.
"Boys younger than me died here." His eyes; suddenly old, knowing.
Letter from France, Father's Day 1995:
"Papa, heah's a photo of yore grandboy when we visited Normandy. Thanky Pa' fer what yer done. When ya was jes' a boy yoreself, ya saved the futrue. Cause of you,Pa', yer Grandboy never had to go."
Father's Day 2006:
Dear Papa, heah's a photo of yer great-grandboy. Ain't he a fine lookin'thang? He favors his Great-Papa, don'cha think? Did'cha ever know we'd sport four generations? Looky what yer done!
God bless our troops.