Saturday, November 15, 2008

In Memory of my Father

In the year nineteen twenty one, His life had just begun. With the help
of a midwife, In a little house in *******, He was born to an abusive
father and a loving mother. There were so many sisters and brothers
The little house was bursting at the seems. He was number thirteen.

For these immigrants from Sicily, There was pasta, bread and lard.
Seldom meat, life was hard.

He learned early to fight and share, and run for cover when his father
was there. It was his mother that taught him her golden rule, Her faith
of God and her love of family.

He spoke Italian at home, he learned English in school. Through seven
grades, he gave his best. He would have to teach himself the rest.

Winter found him at the railroad tracks, Throwing stones at the passing
coal cars. The railroad men through coal in return; In their cold and drafty
house, it would burn.

Summers were spent in a lean-to by the river, to cultivate and guard
their community garden. Over an open fire, his mother cooked lunch.
They were always a lean and hungry bunch.

As an amateur boxer, he fought one year. A sport he would always hold
dear. Kid ****** was his name. Fighting was his game.

He never had much money, But would always find work.
No matter how hard the task, Or how many hours it took, He got the job
done, and managed to leave time for fun.

After employment with the WPA, Roosevelts' Tree Army sounded good to
him. A two year enlistment in the Civilian Conservation Corps, From
sunup to sundown-hard work and more. Wheelbarrow, shovel, pickax
and strong young backs built the locks on the River Illinois.

While working for the CCC, He met his wife to be. They were a well
matched pair, and would go the distance through the long and lean years
With Courage and care.

Pearl Harbor, the shock and sorrow of that day, Somebody had to pay!
To defend his country, he felt obliged His wife cried and cried. So he
stayed on the home front and Built the LST's in the Senica Shipyards,
Until he could stand it no more. He answered his country's call And
enlisted to fight the war With the 4th Division Marine Corp.

Training was brutal, combat was worse. He was introduced to the
sights, sounds and smells of battle, To death and destruction on a massive
scale, To fear, valor, unknown hardships And friendships forged for a
lifetime, To the hell that was Iwo Jima Where he did his part. Twenty
six days And a Purple Heart.

On return to Civilian life, He became a staunch
defender of Veteran's rights.

He took pride of being a member of the 52-20 club for only two weeks.
He found employment in the cement mills, and worked for a poor man's
dollar, Each week, often fifty to sixty hours. He bought our home on the
GI Bill.

Two children were born before the war And two after the war. His half-
acre garden would provide our vegetables; His pear, apple and cherry
trees our fruit. He hunted rabbit for our winter meat. At table, he was
always the last to eat.

As a devout member of his church, he was active in the fundraising And
construction of the building, That stands today in all it's beauty As a
shrine to those veterans of WWII.

He was an active member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars,
The American Legion, The Catholic War Veterans and The Oglesby
Memorial Group. He was honored to be a Marine And one of the first
officers of the Marine Corps League. Carrying petitions and marching in
parades, Coming to anothers veteran's aid, Calling on governors, senators
all, Never loosing sight of the problems to be solved. Ten years
working on the St. Mary's project, Finally success-the
Veteran's Home And no regrets.

He was brash, boisterous and bellicose, With strength and stamina to
spare. He made his way through life through good times and bad,
Caring and sharing all that he had. His commitment to God, country and
family never wavered. He never tired of flying the flag that he favored.
He was a good man possessed of great character. Duty and honor were
not words to him, They were a way of life. He was a proud patriot of a
great generation.

The giant of a man stood five feet four, He served his country in peace
time and war. He was steadfast, loyal and true, His favorite colors were
the red, white and blue.

Joy and sorrow, Success and failure, Loss and disappointment,
Intertwined to make up the sum of his long years. He kept the faith and
worked hard though it all. He was the protector, provider, caregiver and
strength of our family. Illness, accident, injury and great losses would
not defeat him Until Alzheimer's.......

He entered the Veteran's Home he helped to build for others. Confusion,
frustration and madness claimed his mind, Shattered his world, And
scattered his thoughts, Leaving him prey to nameless fears and vague
elusive threats, Often fighting the war he fought before.

Calling out to loved ones long gone who did not answer, Their perceived
desertion brought renewed grief and bewilderment. His mind suspended
somewhere between heaven and hell Lost and alone in an umfamiliar
universe whose language he could not speak.

Moments of carity brought Brief glimpses of the man he had been. But
the inevitable return of his failing and altered mind, Would just break
our hearts again.

Finally, joyously, Eighty five years from the day he was born, God
called his name, Gabriel blew the horn and Peter threw the
gates open wide. He stepped inside.

Author: My sister

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