He couldn’t tell me why he was crying, only that he had done something really bad.

He couldn’t tell me why he was crying, only that he had done something really bad. The grief and sorrow he was battling was so intense I was sure that whatever the problem was, it had just taken place. My dad was sobbing and it broke my heart.

I convinced him to come and sit on the front porch and after some time had passed he looked at me and said, “we did what we were told.”

The year wasn’t 2010, it was 1942.

As a bombardier in World War II, an oath taken over 60 years ago, was still intact:


“Mindful of the secret trust about to be placed in me by my Commander in Chief, the President of the United States, by whose direction I have been chosen for bombardier training... and mindful of the fact that I am to become guardian of one of my country’s most priceless military assets, the American bombsight... I do here, in the presence of Almighty God, swear by the Bombardier’s Code of Honor to keep inviolate the secrecy of any and all confidential information revealed to me, and further to uphold the honor and integrity of the Army Air Forces, if need be, with my life itself.”

Whether our soldiers lose their lives or make it back home, they carry the weight of our freedom on their shoulders forever. The injustice of it all isn’t that there was a war or even that we’re at war right now, it’s that our family, friends and loved ones pay the price for our freedom.

Saying that we’re American rolls off our tongues too easily. It’s a gift that is too often taken for granted. We lay our heads on soft fluffy pillows each night oblivious that we are a nation at war, unaware of the suffering and anguish of those fighting for our lives, as well as being mindful to those who have lost loved ones to the cause.

Memorial Day is a time for reflection. To show our love and respect for those who were near and dear to our hearts but we also to remember the hundreds of thousands who lost their lives, while protecting ours.

After some time had passed, I got some bits and pieces from Dad. His heart was telling him to unlock the memories, to let go of the many years of holding onto secrets that were unbearable to speak about. His dementia has taken away the ability to remember the current date or time or the names of loved ones but his bombardier’s oath, so deeply ingrained, still remains.

Finally, through tears he couldn’t control.

“I made it,” Dad said, as though he felt guilty of his return home so many years ago. “Many of them didn’t.”

Pray for our military and for a safe return.