It was odd to have a mission in the mall on Memorial Day that wasn't about getting to work. That's a big sale day, and in management, big sale days mean work. Instead I gave a donation for a red poppy from a war veteran and thanked him for his service, and I thought of Dad. This was our first Memorial Day without him.
Aunt Nora said on the day Dad was scheduled to arrive home after WWII ended, he did not show up. He arrived at one o'clock in the morning after everybody had gone to bed. She said they heard him whistling a tune up the alley: "When Johnny Comes Marching home."
Dad soon met the new neighbors who moved in directly across the street while he was gone, and when he saw Mom, he said it was love at first site. He became a New York City fireman, they got married, and kept busy with a growing family.
That would be nine children.
Dad never did receive his medals for his service, because the office that contained his records was destroyed in a fire. My brother, Tom, and our nephew, Michael, later tried to obtain the medals, and after a tremendous bit of research and effort, they succeeded. Tom recorded the information about Dad's service:
"Patrick E. King belonged to the 24th Infantry Division, 63rd Field Artillery Bn, Pacific Theater, Leyte. He earned his commendation during The Leyte invasion and was endorsed by Colonel Landis. He was in a valley midway between the east and west Leyte coast where he acted as a radio relay man.
The enemy knew that eliminating radio communication could turn the battle, and Dad's unit was a target under fire for thirteen days. They held their position and Dad gave fire coordinates to the artillery and naval batteries."
Dad always downplayed his achievements whatever they were in life, and he made it clear that he was no fan of war, and he did not want his family or future generations mixed up in it. But we are grateful for the stories of his life and thankful that at 89 years of age, he received the medals of service that were mounted on a plague and presented to him by another WWII Veteran.
Memorial Day is a few days past, but I wanted to honor Dad this way and to say thank you to our servicemen and women and their families wherever they are.