My dad served in the Pacific during World War II, finishing his tour in the Navy aboard the U.S.S. Missouri as it headed for Japan late in the war to shell Tokyo but the surrender of the Japanese turned the battleship into the platform for the surrender in 1945.
Electrician’s Mate 1st Class William Douglas Thompson Sr. stood in full dress aboard the giant ship to witness Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Japanese Foreign Minister Shigemitsu in the formal signing of the declaration to end the war.
Then he came back to America to meet up with my mother at the Norfolk Navy Yard so tey could climb on board their Harley Davidsons to motor down to Southwestern Virginia to meet my parents at their home just outside Meadows of Dan.
Dad served under fire on several ships during the war in the Pacific, escaping injury to come home to marry, settle in Gibsonton, Florida with his new wife and young son who came along in late 1947, only to die nine months later in a horrific industrial accident at the U.S. Phosphorus Plant in Tampa. He and my mother lie together now in a cemetery in North Tampa.
I never knew my dad. The only memories I have of him came from the stories told by my mother and grandparents in Florida. His service in the Navy continued a tradition in our family that continues today, where a nephew serves also as a Naval special forces operator.
My maternal grandfather fought in World War I in the Army and his service is noted on his tombstone in the Buffalo Mountain Church cemetery.
On this Veteran’s Day Sunday, I will head over to Buffalo Mountain Presbyterian Church to honor by granddad, then on to the Southwestern Virginia Veterans Cemetery at Dublin to pay respects to remembered friends like Adrian Cronauer, the Air Force enlistee who created the “Good Morning Vietnam” greeting during service in Saigon in the Vietnam conflict.
Later Sunday afternoon, I will shoot photos and video in Floyd’s annual Veteran’s Day Parade to help honor our local men and women who served their nation and put their lives on the line.
Service to our country is something one hopes we can do without rancor or debate in a nation split by angry partisan divides. Those who serve put the needs of their nation first. Many were drafted but many others also enlisted. Many came home with physical and mental scars and nightmares but each of us should thank and honor each of them not only on Veteran’s Day but on every day.
They deserve our thanks, our support and our love.
It is our pleasure to honor each for their service. Without them, we would not be here to do so.