When this post goes live, I will be sitting on a beach in Mexico on a long-overdue family vacation. Needless to say, we’re all excited, including my nine-year-old, who is bouncing off the walls in anticipation.
As I have contemplated what I was going to say this month, the time of year called to me. I would be remiss if I did not say something concerning those brave soldiers who have defended freedom and our way of life over the years. I sit amongst the chaos of packing, grateful for the freedom I have to live in a way I choose, go where I wish to go, and live the life I have chosen with those I love.
Among those who served the cause of freedom with bravery and distinction was my late father, Gill Rowland. My father was a bit of a character. He had his quirks and he embarrassed his children at times over the years with his ways. But there was no better father, firmer friend, or braver man that I have ever met in my entire life.
Dad was born in 1926, and while he lived most of his adult life in Canada and became a Canadian citizen before I was born, dad was actually born and raised in the United States. If you do the math, you will discover that he was not old enough to join the marine corps until 1944. But dad lied about his age, and while the recruiter knew he was lying, they were desperate for men and he wasn’t challenged. Thus after joining not long after the Pearl Harbor bombings, he was shipped out to the South Pacific.
I don’t remember my dad speaking much of his experiences fighting against the Japanese. Indeed, I suspect it would have been difficult to speak of as an underage young man in the middle of a horrific war. He did his duty, however, participating in the fighting on Guadalcanal, and later Okinawa. He always said he lived a charmed life. In one story the men he was serving with struck a mine while digging a foxhole less than thirty seconds after he had exited the hole. On another, he and another friend were strafed by an airplane (dad always said he thought it was by friendly fire) while standing in front of some wash, and while the sheets were riddled with bullet holes, he escaped without a scratch. He came home from the war, having experienced horrors, but without even a scratch, having even avoided malaria, which was rampant among the troops.
My father passed away in 2011, but I often think about him, especially at this time of year when I am reminded what our brave men and women have suffered in the cause of freedom. I hope that in this day of strife, when we live in a society divided and torn with disagreement, where wars are fought over what seems like the silliest things and hatred abounds, that we will come together and remember the great blessings we all have, and those who sacrificed to ensure we are able to live and love in the manner we choose.