Veteran's Day is so significant because Leif always wanted to serve his country. He wanted to be a pilot but that was denied to him by his poor eyesight. His second choice was to be an Air Force Officer, nonpilot. But that was denied to him because of a failed muscle. His third choice was an army career, but that was denied to him by asthma despite his excellence as a machine gunner.
Being in a soldier, defending his country and his beloved Constitution, was an integral part of his identity. It never left him, even when he was forced into medical retirement from the army after three and a half years of service. It will always be his identity.
Veteran's Day comes this year on the heels of seven years and seven months since he died. It is hard to realize it's been that long. It seems only yesterday he was sitting at my kitchen table, long legs stretched out, talking politics. We still miss him every day, and never know what will trigger an attack of sadness or nostalgia. . . something we see in a movie, something on television, a car like his driving past, someone on a motorcycle, the political process he would have loved to discuss, the new James Bond movie he would have loved to see.
It's hard not being able to share those things with him. It's hard not knowing what to do with what I still have of his things. I finally parted with his bass guitar and his Kramer Floyd Rose guitar. It took me over seven years to do it. My conscious mind knows he isn't coming back for them, but the hidden mind does not accept that. Somewhere in my unconscious it feels deeply wrong and disloyal to sell his prized possessions.
I am proud of Leif's service. Proud that he managed to get through tough infantry basic training on a broken foot. Proud of his tall and soldierly bearing. Proud of his skills. Proud that he persevered even when asthma made it hard for him to breath or run. Proud that he cared about his country. Proud that the studied the Constitution and believed in it, protecting it, from all enemies, foreign and domestic.
I miss you, my son!