The parades are all over - the streets still littered with the first Italian ice wrappers of the season, the little plastic flags left behind in the chain links of the fences that line the streets - the barbeques are all winding down, everyone is settled in for the last lazy evening of the holiday weekend, with thoughts turning, reluctantly in most cases, to thoughts of work tomorrow. We, in this household, have been fortunate. The soldiers in this house are of the local variety, the weapons of their trade shovels and blow torches and welding equipment. The soldiers in this house do not serve in the military, and so this is not their day. Their day is Labor Day, and my boys march in that parade up 5th Ave in NYC with as much pride as the military marches today. We have been fortunate that the wars that could have taken my husband and son have already been fought, years ago, by brave men who put down their welding torches (handing them off to their wives and daughters in many cases. Go Rosie!) and traded them for guns, handing in their hard hats and traded them for helmets. There was no choice then - our fathers went to war, and their families sacrificed and today, we honor not only those who have fallen in defense of this country and the ideals it represents, but we honor the mothers, the wives, the husbands and the children of these brave people who offer their lives to their country. My father served in the Navy, a red headed Jewish boy from Brooklyn barely old enough to enlist and today, while we bbq'd and listened to music and enjoyed our day off, I thought of him as I watched my son, still so very young at 23 years old - I thought of my father, so much younger than 23 when he went to war - and wondered if I could ever be that strong, if I could ever willingly make that kind of sacrifice. I thought of all the sons and daughters and fathers and mothers who are serving right now in the Middle East, and the families who have an empty seat at the picnic tables today, who's thoughts turn to those places that seem so very far away, but are really not so far at all. Here is to those brave souls. God Bless you all. I pray with all my heart and soul for the day when there are no empty seats at the picnic tables, and the only tools of a man's trade are ones of creation, not destruction. God keep our soldiers safe, one and all.
This is a self portrait my father, Albert, drew when he was in the Navy. I never saw my father drink except in this picture.