Honoring our own veterans

November 11, 2018

My father was a talented artist. My sisters and I each inherited one of his oil paintings. Six paintings for six daughters who never saw him paint.

We saw him mow the lawn, play solitaire for hours at the kitchen table, scream at us if we entered the room without socks or left the lights on. He couldn’t tolerate noise. We learned to be silent.

It’s easy to criticize him. Fair play for the amount of criticism he spewed. But now that I am living these senior years, I am wiser.

Shot down in France on D-Day as his feet and parachute pummeled the ground, Walter C. Lucinski then recovered in some hospital bed wanting to heal.

Our mother boasted of his time during the war, that he only ever landed in an airplane once. That he had made a hundred jumps before the age of 19. Before he married her at the age of 20 in Washington, D.C.

What he witnessed on the ground must have wounded his chances of seeing the light in the world. He died of the disease called alcoholism the day before Veterans Day, Nov. 10, 1981, at the age of 56. He is buried in Arlington Cemetery next to my mother.

I am proud of the service he gave to this great country. I have forgiven his rage.

Last August I received an email from a reader who shared a similar story with me about his father’s role as a rear tail gunner during the same war. Kenn stumbled upon a cigar box of letters his dad had written to his mother during the war and was afraid to open it for years.

When he finally read them, Kenn says, “I could not believe the words of love and affection were written by my dad. Was this the same man who had become a nasty, brutal alcoholic?”

In the box, Kenn discovered a poem titled ‘The War to End All Wars’ written to his mother who waited for her husband’s return. Kenn says, “When I read it, I wished I’d gotten to know the man who had written those poems ... and yet in some ways I have.”

The following is an excerpt written by Kenn’s father, Cpl. Kenneth R. Kaye, U.S. Air Force, while serving overseas in England during World War II.

“The sacrifices are painful and great 
And most of them made with blood 
There are mothers’ sons who are dying out there 
Amid cannons, guns and mud ...
“They say this is a war to end all wars; 
But you and I know that wars are like a curse ... 
Twenty years from now there will be a few men ... 
Who will march to another great war 
Heads held high. They’ll be proud. They will not cower.
“And this will keep on as long as there’s life on this world 
For no man is content with what he has of his own and 
With the blood of other men he will pay.”

To all veterans and to the enlisted men and women, I thank you for your service and wish you happiness and healing.

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter