Back in the U.S., it’s Memorial Day when Americans honor our soldiers who died in service. My father, Marion Rae Wilkerson, was a 25-year Navy veteran, and while he didn’t die in service, I always remember him on this weekend.
He was on a ship in the Pacific during World War II that was blown in half by the Japanese. He was on the half that was able to save many of their sailors. He came home to San Diego shortly after that and I was conceived. Had he not been on the right end of that ship, my sister would have been an only child.
Today I am the only one left of my family, having lost my sister to kidney cancer eleven years ago. My father died of a brain tumor 27 years ago, and my mother of alcoholism 45 years ago. I mention this because it has had a strange effect on my philosophy of life.
I think having children and family give one a strong reason to live life well. Without that, you have to search for and find substitute pillars, especially in tough times. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that, for the most part. I have been very blessed with friends, a wonderful husband, and a strong will to live.
Did you know that Memorial Day was first enacted by formerly enslaved African-Americans to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War? It was extended after World War I to honor Americans who have died in all wars. I didn’t know that until today. African-Americans who came to this country as slaves certainly offer proof of what it is like to find pillars when family is taken away.
In my travels and many years of living abroad (France, England, Greece, Mexico), I admire immigrants who have overcome difficulties to learn language and skills to survive and thrive. When people speak disparagingly about immigrants I guess I get more than a little bothered.
I hope you too have periods of reflections like I do whenever we set aside holidays to mark important events in the world. My best to you.