Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

My father, William M. Bates, USN:

He was the gunnery officer on a troop landing ship. Yes, he was there at Normandy on D-Day, and once observed to me that however much he was being shot at, dodging bullets and shrapnel (mostly successfully) as he directed fire control, the troops actually landing that day had it far, far worse than he did. My thanks to every one of them who served then, and to those who serve today.

War is unpleasant, nasty business... Dad emphasized to me that it was anything but glorious... but we all owe our lives to the men and women who prepare for it. Today is their day.


  1. Thank you for sharing your dad's military experiences. Reading this makes the day more meaningful.

    My father, and his brother who died a couple years before him, shared many war stories with us, too. Thanks to all of them.

  2. I agree with you father, Steve, wars are necessary or unnecessary, but never glorious. In any case, they are the result of politicians failing to do their jobs properly.

  3. Bryan, W.W.II was necessary... Dog knows what kind of world we would live in if it had not been fought. By contrast, so many of the wars today, wars in which the U.S. seems not to be able to resist involvement, are not only unnecessary but IMHO unjust.

    My father pointed me to that famous quote from Clausewitz, "War is not merely a political act, but also a political instrument, a continuation of political relations, a carrying out of the same by other means"; if that is so (and I believe it is), our military policy these days is right in line with our politics... which is both embarrassing and dangerous.

    We need to change approaches. We need to stop wasting the lives of our youth on politically motivated wars, adventurism, etc. Defense should be the sole mission of our military... defense, and nothing more. (Here ends the sermon for the morning.)

  4. OWL, my father rarely told war stories, and then only in relation to a point he was trying to make. For war stories, I'd have had to turn to my Uncle Wesley, who served with distinction as a paratrooper (a helluva scary occupation). The difference (I think)? War was the most significant thing Wesley engaged in in his life; Dad, on the other hand, went on to accomplish many fine things as a middle school teacher and later counselor.

    (Sometime I'll go into more detail on Dad's battles in front of Texas's infamous SBOE, which has been in the news a lot lately for undoing my father's work. But that's for another time...)

  5. My dad went through Sicily and then through France, Germany and ended his WWII experience in Austria. He told us many stories but I do not think he was in close combat.

    Perhaps he never told us about that part. As a small child I cheerfully asked him if he had ever shot anybody and was quickly pounced on and silenced by my mother...

    The horrors of war stay with the soldiers and as old men they weep.

    Thank you, soldiers, from the bottom of my heart for all you have done in service to our country.

  6. ellroon, I've encountered quite a few military men (mostly men) reluctant to talk about the war experience itself. When i remember that my father Bill was reluctant to sleep in the room with Uncle Wesley when they came back from the war, because Wesley would sleep-walk and relive combat scenes, I can understand why. It's devastating to more people than we might think.

  7. Yes. A friend's father had the horrible experience of being left wounded to be picked up by the Germans and made a prisoner of war.

    My friend told me his father slept badly ever after, having to hold to the bed post while sleeping. If he had ever come across any of his squad he would have gladly attacked them for leaving him.

    And Wesley was suffering from what we now know as PTSD, poor guy.



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