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At Ease!

A blog about veterans affairs

Father’s Day


Yesterday was Father’s Day and I had a great time with my two kids. I started thinking about my dad, who died of agent orange related cancer at the age of 47 and missed the rewards of being a good father.

He only lived long enough to see two of his five kids graduate from high school and didn’t see any of us graduate from college. He never got to see that all of us somehow managed to to become productive adults – no criminals or ne’er do wells among us. He never got to see or dote on any of his now six grandchildren either.

Dad, an Air Force “lifer,” was away a lot when we were growing up – year-long trips to Vietnam and Thailand and six-month “temporary” assignments to Spain, England, Africa, and on and on. We always missed him. As a father myself now, I realize how much he probably missed us too.

Nonetheless, Dad, and we, were luckier than many others. No matter where he went, how long he went for, or how dangerous it was, he always came home. Many of those who serve their country never do.

I remember a few friends who lost their dads in Vietnam. When the blue staff car with the general’s star insignia rolled into base housing, we kids knew that it wasn’t coming to deliver good news. We all used to run home to make sure it wasn’t coming to our house. Most times, the family moved off the base pretty quickly after notification was made. We usually never got a chance to say goodbye to them, or find out what happened to them.

I was reminded of that today by this story that appeared in the Stars & Stripes. In what has become a tradition at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., relatives and friends of the fallen left messages and placed 2,000 roses at the Wall for Father’s Day. For some reason, it made me feel sad and glad at the same time. Sad, because it brought back a few painful memories about what for the most part was a great life growing up as a “military brat,” and glad, because it’s good to see that four decades later, the dads who never made it home are still in our collective hearts.

This entry was posted on Monday, June 22nd, 2009 at 3:01 pm by Rich Liebson. |
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"At Ease!" is a place for Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine and Coast Guard veterans to share their experiences and voice their opinions. It doesn't matter if you served during war or peacetime, overseas or stateside, active duty or reserves, as a draftee or volunteer - if you served in uniform, this is the place for you.

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If you're a member of a veterans organization in the Lower Hudson Valley, let us know about your events, charity efforts and other news. We may also ask for your help in finding sources to interview for veterans stories in The Journal News and LoHud.com.

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KatieRich Liebson is a "military brat" who grew up on bases in the U.S. and Germany during his father's 23-year career as an Air Force enlisted man. Rich enlisted in the Army in 1976 and until his discharge in 1980 was assigned to the 78th Engineer Battalion in Ettlingen, Germany, as a public information specialist and translator. He's been a reporter at The Journal News and its forerunner, the Reporter Dispatch, for more than 20 years. During that time he's covered a variety of beats and has written frequently about veterans and veterans issues.
HemaHema Easley was born and raised in India, where she worked as a reporter for The Associated Press and United Press International. While in India she wrote about the insurgency in Indian-controlled Kashmir and covered the 1999 India-Pakistan conflict in the mountains of Kashmir. She joined The Journal News in 2002. She has covered municipal government in Westchester and now covers on social services in Rockland as well as military issues.

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