Yesterday was Memorial Day, the day we set a side here in the US to remember the military members that have served our country so that we can have the freedoms that we are allowed here.
I thought about my Dad yesterday. His parents immigrated to the US, the “Free World” from Italy back in the early 1900’s. They did not speak the language and arrived on these great shores with very little personal effects through Ellis Island. I can only imagine how they must have felt coming to a strange lady with only a promise of a better life. My Dad did not like to talk about his growing up years, I would ask him many questions to find out what it was like when he grew up in 1920’s Chicago. Many times he would tell me he didn’t remember, I think he had such a difficult childhood that he didn’t want to remember. I never met my grandparents, they had passed away a long time before I was born.
My Dad did tell me a few things that I will always cherish. Immigrants did not have a very easy life like many do these days. If you didn’t learn the language and work hard you would not make it. My Dad grew up in the city limits and had 8 siblings. He was the middle child, he said that he and the older boys would pick through other peoples garbage looking for broken toys, take them home and fix them up for the younger kids for Christmas gifts. They all worked in the family garden and helped with his Dad’s fruit and vegetable business. From what he told me he and his siblings were not allowed to speak Italian because they were Americans! Although they would translate for their parents.
He said when he heard about the bombing Pearl Harbor he and some of his friends went home and asked their Mother’s to allow them to enlist in the military. He dropped out of high school to join the US Navy, many of his friends did also. He served on the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown. He loved the Navy, that was his passion, he would light up when he talked about it. He received an honorable discharge because my Mom was sick and he needed to come home to take care of her, my brother and sister. He then joined the Air Naval Reserves at Glenview Air Station in Glenview, IL. He retired with over 40 years of service. He loved the reserves and was so lost once he retired. He would go visit the guys after he retired and he also looked forward to the yearly USS Yorktown reunions.
My Dad was a simple man and didn’t really want for much. My Dad was a great Dad, he always provided, loved children. He did eventually get his GED, I was in 4th grade at the time. He and my Mom would attend night school at an area High School. My Dad went to be with my Mom in heaven 7 years ago this August. I am very proud of my Dad and all that he accomplished in his life. Love and Miss you, Dad!