Veterans Day Essay - My Father And His Gun
Jann Gregg (known as Chi Chi since before birth) is the second of four daughters born to Gloria and Francis Stone - a World War II Veteran. Jann is the wife of Dennis a career Army Veteran.
My Father And His Gun
I remember our cellar. I suppose it was the same as most houses; the freezer where leftovers were stored, a furnace, holiday boxes and two industrial sinks to wash the very large roasting pans my mother used to cook our Italian meals for our uncles.
That was also the location of my Dad's workshop. He kept his nails and screws in small baby food jars with the lids screwed into a board hanging on shelves. His hammers and other tools were placed neatly on a peg board to be used whenever my mother wanted something repaired or his son-in-laws needed help with a remodeling job. My Father loved carpentry and thought that was what he would do with his life. He always kept everything so neat and organized and he knew right away when something was missing or out of place.
He also used that space to be alone from his family of females. He went down there to play his trumpet and that was how he relaxed. To this day, "Moon River" will always have a special place in my heart. But that wasn't all that was in the cellar. There was also his gun - his service sidearm he kept up in the rafters of the cellar.
It was talked about only one time, when one of us girls asked about it and we were told that it was dad's and we were not to touch it. So, we didn't and it was never mentioned again.
He met my Mom and fell in love. However, my maternal grandfather would not let them marry because my dad was an Airman in the Army Air Corps and he did not want his daughter to be a military widow. So, they eloped -- at the church across the street from my grandfather's house. They ended up going to Georgia where my mom got pregnant. Before the end of her pregnancy they were back to upstate New York where the first of four daughters was born on Veterans Day. Years later we were told by our paternal grandparents that she saluted them when they visited her in the hospital.
Upon discharge from the military, Dad went into the family funeral business with my maternal grandfather and then he went into politics for twenty years. We never asked him what he did in the service and he never spoke about that time to us - not even when most of us married military men or when my two sons went into the Army.
What did he do in the service? Did he fight from a plane? That is what I knew in my heart that he did. I could even visualize it. But it never really mattered what he did because he was my Dad. And life went on until I married my husband who is a 20 year Army veteran. Suddenly, because of him and his pride in his military career I wanted to know. Suddenly it was important.
Now the gun is gone to someone who bought it after the death of my parents and I have no answers as to why it was there or the importance of him keeping it. Was it a war trophy he was given? Did his commanding officer give it to him as a memento? What significance did it hold for him? And was that the reason he never went hunting with other family members?
I decided to get his discharge papers. I found out that my Dad was never in a fighter plane - instead, he was a clerk. he was the person accountable for weapons, money, and people. All the things everyone needed to know. Maybe he even prepared orders for people to go to the Pacific. I don't know and I wish I did. But I do know he was not shooting the enemy out of a plane and that's okay because he made a difference to others. And if you knew my Dad, you would know that he thought that was the most important thing to do and it also helped in his career choice in dealing with family members and the public.
The gun is gone. My Dad is gone. The memories remain and the questions are not so important anymore.