Memorial Day

Most of the time, Memorial Day makes me think of the countless men and women who have given their lives in defense of freedom.

Today, I found myself thinking of two men I never knew.

My Uncle Charlie was my Dad’s next youngest brother. He served as a paratrooper in WWII, in “The Big Red One”–something I didn’t know until just a few years ago. Dad told other Uncle Charlie stories. He had really bad allergies. He sent more than his paycheck home to Grandmom & Grandpop, because he consistently won at poker. (My brother John and sister Kath inherited his gift for card playing.) In a cruel twist of fate, Uncle Charlie died in Europe, run over by a Jeep, after peace had been declared. Grandmom thought all four of her older boys, all of them in service, would return home to her, until the telegram came that brought her to her knees, sobbing in grief.

My mom had never met her Australian first cousin, William Stanley Brennan, until he stopped to visit his American kin in Pennsylvania on his way to England via Canada. From the way she talked about him, I think she had a case of instant hero worship. Stan had volunteered for the Royal Air Force. My sister MaryBeth, in doing some family research, discovered he was killed in action less than four months later.

These are only two of the stories that put faces and names to the men and women we remember today. When we remember all those who have fallen, let us remember that every one of them had a story: a face, a name, a family, hopes and fears and dreams….

Let us not only honor all of them. Let us honor every single one of them.

Sentimental Journey

I’m going home to Pennsylvania at the end of the week.

Dad will be 92 on Wednesday. The birthday party is on Saturday, and my husband and I plan to be there, along with the rest of the clan.

All Dad wants for his birthday is a family party with a little pickin’n’grinnin’…recorded, so he can listen to it back at the nursing home. We’re more than happy to oblige. His five kids, six grandkids, four great-grandkids, and any number of nieces and nephews and their kids, siblings and the respective inlaws of all the above categories will be on hand to add to the general merriment and musicality. There will be plenty of food and drink, of the minor and adult variety. As we like to say: “The more you drink, the better we sound.”

In honor of Dad, and the journey back home for his birthday, I’m posting one of Dad’s favorite songs. There were other versions of “Sentimental Journey” on But this one had pictures of the WWII vets and the people of the time–who did what needed to be done when the world needed it most. This is most likely the version that Dad heard while he was in the Navy, sung by the marvelous Doris Day.

We’ll probably sing this at the party…but probably not quite as well!

Happy birthday, Dad, with lots of love and prayers.