As I sit here at my laptop remembering why we celebrate our freedom, I remember my late dad who fought in WW II. He looked so handsome in his army uniform in his early 20s and was stationed in England. Funny thing is that he hated England and happened to have a daughter that loves England. When I would come back from England and tell stories of my adventures, he would shake his head. Totally different experiences on our respective parts, and not surprisingly so. Experiencing war is totally different than a vacation.
He married my now late mom and had three daughters. We first lived in Branford and then moved to West Haven on land his father gave us. He almost single handedly built that house. The poor man never could get into the bathroom with a wife and three daughters. We totally outnumbered him! Both my parents are now gone, and my sisters and I seem to have some difficulty with putting the house he built up for sale. It's our last piece of him left.
My father loved both of his grandsons. He loved to hang out with Patrick, my sister's son who came along in 1981. Patrick meant the world to my father as his first grandson and was almost the son he never had at some level. My son Kyle didn't come along until 1998, and by then, my father had totally given up on me having children. It was an enormous surprise for him, and my father adored Kyle even as an infant. When he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, he would keep Kyle's photo right next to him. He passed away just as my son was entering kindergarten. He never got to meet my son Jag who I adopted after his passing. There is no doubt he would have thoroughly enjoyed rough housing with Jag. He had three daughters, and he would have had three grandsons had he lived longer.
The 10th year anniversary of his passing is next week, and I just want to acknowledge all those that fought to preserve the freedom of this country including my dad. I also want to acknowledge my 21 year old stepson, Phillip, who is entering the service in November. His dad and I are nervous for him, but enormously proud of him for volunteering to do something so completely altruistic. We support his decision and hope that God will watch over him.
So this is not just another day off. What can we do to honor those that fought for our freedom? Simple things. Put your flag out. If you see a soldier, go up to him or her and thank them for serving their country. And most of all, you can take a moment out of your day to say a silent prayer for those that continue to fight for our country. Whether you believe in a particular war or conflict is beside the point, these are sons and daughters of families that love them and want them to come back home safely and with their bodies intact. So go to protests if you like because this country was founded on the right to free speech. But remember those serving this country at the same time.
Happy 4th to all!
Cathy Vellucci Cundiff