Sunday, November 10, 2013

Veterans' Day

This story, or a variation of it, could be told a thousand different times I expect. My heritage is poor Irish so as immigrants, we started in the coal mines of Kentucky. From there the Frakes began to move north and west into Iowa. Along the way, my great great grandfather enlisted and fought in the Black Hawk Indian wars. Later, my great grandfather (a Quaker) fought in the Civil War. He was captured and sent to Andersonville prison. My grandfather did not enlist. He chose to uphold the Irish drinking stereotype. My father enlisted in the Iowa State Guard and fought in the Cow War (google it, there really is a cow war). My older brother served in the National Guard for several years, all stateside. He attempted to re-enlist during Desert Storm, but was turned down. I enlisted in the Army and served in Germany during part of the Cold War—though I hasten to point out that I never gave nor received hostile fire. My younger brother enlisted and served in Vietnam until he was killed shortly before the end of his second tour. I discouraged my son from enlisting as I felt the Frakes had done enough. And though he thought seriously about enlisting, he didn’t. After his son enlisted, he tried to enlist as he thought he would then be able to protect his son. He, too, was too old to enlist by then. My first grandson is currently deployed in Afghanistan. He will still have several years left of his current enlistment after he comes home. I have two grandsons and three granddaughters not currently in the military. And, the truth be told, I hope Jake ends our military history. One of my favorite parts of Micah reads, “…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” I am ready for all families to have a different history. We need to remember the specialness of this day, but we need to walk a different path going forward. Normally my family celebrates this day with lemon pie for I believe that is the only way to truly honor a vet. But, with Jake in deployment, we are going wait and make the pie when he comes home and is out of harm’s way. In the meantime, thank you for  your service to all vets. I hope you get your lemon pie.

Harold R. Frakes