This is a discussion on My dilemma within the Bob & Terry's Place forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Last weekend I was in Indiana for my oldest son’s wedding and to spend some time with my Dad. He is 94 years old and ...
September 29th, 2013 12:12 PM
Last weekend I was in Indiana for my oldest son’s wedding and to spend some time with my Dad. He is 94 years old and a WWII veteran. Over the years I have tried to get him to talk about his experiences, which he refuses to do. While there I asked him if I remembered correctly him mentioning that he had carried a Browning Auto Rifle (BAR) during the war. He confirmed that he did, and said something I had never heard before. That he had lost 2 ammo carriers during the war. Also found out that one of them was blown up right in front of him. Not sure if it was from a mine or hand grenade. He wouldn’t discuss it.
I remember vaguely as a kid in the early 50’s his old uniform handing in a basement storage closet, but hadn’t seen it in years. I found out from my stepmother he had gotten rid of it, as well as his medals, which included a Purple Heart (shrapnel wounds).
She also told me he didn’t want a military funeral and just wanted a flag on his head stone. I told her, that I was sorry, but could not honor that request. That he deserved to be buried with Military Honors, including a flag draped coffin and Honor Guard. I contacted the American Legion post and talked to the Post Commander. He said it was no problem, just contact them when the time came, giving his name and the name of the funeral home and they would handle the rest. He also informed me they have a special Honor Guard for WWII Vet.
Since I have had time to think about it, I’m wondering if what I’m thinking about doing is the right thing. I feel as a Vet he deserves it. He put his life on the line for this country and should be recognized for doing so. On the other hand, I wonder if going against what he wants is wrong on my part.
I know which way I’m leaning. Just wanted to maybe get some feedback to see if my train of thinking is flawed.
Last edited by archer51; September 29th, 2013 at 07:56 PM.
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September 29th, 2013 12:25 PM
Proud men sometimes have a hard time seeing the truth of how important the things they have done . Your Father deserves to be sent out with honors .
I wish you peace in your decision on these matters and with the help of your family you will find the one that brings comfort to you.
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September 29th, 2013 12:29 PM
I would think you would honor him more to respect his wishes, proud as you are of him.
September 29th, 2013 12:32 PM
His service earned whatever honors and acknowledgement are appropriate, sure. But IMO I would have a tough time going against strong wishes like that. If he's dead set against honors (which don't change much beyond our perception of things), perhaps simple is best in this case. Perhaps a heartfelt eulogy at the simple service would suffice, highlighting the man himself and his impact on others ... not his involvement with warfare ages ago.
Consider the ending scene in the film Saving Private Ryan, in which the elderly vet turns in tears to his wife and asks if she thought he was a good man, that he lived a good life. Wasn't interested in speaking of the past, of drowning in those memories, of burdening others with thoughts of the things he'd seen and done. Was interested solely in being good enough in life to have earned the admiration and respect of others. Perhaps that is similar to what your father is feeling about it.
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September 29th, 2013 12:34 PM
If you honor what he did, you will honor what he wants. The greatest honor we can give to people is to respect what they believe and what they want.
September 29th, 2013 12:36 PM
Your father deserves to have his wishes respected and followed. The military honors would be for him not you. He clearly doesn't want those honors so I don't understand why you'd force the issue.
My grandfather who passed a few years back was the same way. He relayed almost no information about his service during the war, but we knew just enough about his service that it was clear he saw and did a lot of things he never wanted to remember. My grandma received a flag but that was it. There were no other military honors whatsoever because that is what HE wanted.
Your attempt to honor your father will only be a dishonor to his wishes.
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September 29th, 2013 12:37 PM
Funerals are not for the dead but the living. Which choice will ease the grieving?
September 29th, 2013 12:48 PM
No matter how proud you are of your Dad and his service in the military, you should respect his wishes. Apparently your Dad does not believe that his military service is what defined him as a man.
My guess is that he is more proud of how he lived his life and how he treated his family.
Honor your Father by adhering to his wishes.
You will be glad you did.
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September 29th, 2013 12:51 PM
My father, a WWII vet as well, died 3 days into his 90th year. He was entitled to many police and military honors upon his death, but he made his wishes clear: that his last will and testament be respected by all of his children and that he be interred alongside his wife of 55 years. I am very happy that we subordinated our desires to his - he was entitled to no less. Good luck with whatever decision you make.
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September 29th, 2013 01:02 PM
We had a similar dilemma when my Uncle James passed. E-9, 3 wars, from Omaha beach until his retirement. , 3 Purple hearts, several oak leaf clusters, DSC for Vietnam, basically everything except Medal of Honor. His will stated a non military funeral. He felt as if "full" military funerals were for those who made the "ultimate sacrifice" for their country. Although his brothers and sisters had mixed feelings, his wishes were honored.
IMHO. Those "Old Soldiers" see things from a different perspective.
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September 29th, 2013 01:05 PM
Without going into detail, both my parents had wishes regarding services and last requests. Although I wasn't in agreement, I honored both of their requests.
If you had a particular request and strong feelings concerning end of life/funeral/burial requests would YOU want them carried out?
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September 29th, 2013 01:31 PM
Well, it's either his body, your body, or his country's body. IMO.
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September 29th, 2013 01:37 PM
Although it true that funerals are for the living, I would honor my dad's request, assuming it wasn't outlandish or embarrassing.
What I do suggest, however, is that you contact the Patriot Guard Riders in advance of 'that' day and see if there's a chapter near your dad's final resting place. Short of full military honors, this is a patriotic honor afforded by civilians who appreciate the veterans' sacrifices.
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September 29th, 2013 01:40 PM
To the OP, went through the same thing with my dad several years ago. I reasoned with him and he decided to have full honors at his funeral. It did my mother good when he died about 18 months ago. Got the flag in a cabinet in the living room. All I can say is you and he will have to sort this out together. Best wishes.
September 29th, 2013 01:46 PM
both my parents served and each by their own wishes are next to each other at Arlington
i'm with retsupt99 --
give thought to the question -- if you asked, how would you feel if the kid did something else?
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