Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

Anyone who's read the Sebastian series knows my opinion of the mythologization of war. So it often comes as a shock to some to learn that I come from a very military family.

This is my dad, Raymond Lambert Proctor, who enlisted in the Air Corps at the age of 17, received a battlefield commission to lieutenant in the South Pacific in WWII, and retired a lieutenant colonel.

This is my husband, Steve Harris (on the left), who served two tours in Vietnam and retired a lieutenant colonel:
And this is my daughter Samantha, who is currently a captain on active duty as a doctor in the Air Force:
My sister, Penny, was a Marine captain and her husband, Derek, a Marine major, but unfortunately I couldn't find any pictures of them.

Memorial Day isn't about glorifying war but about honoring and remembering those who served and sometimes paid the ultimate price.

I'm proud of all of you.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you to your family for their dedication and service!! As a daughter of immigrants that came to this country with nothing, having fled Romania on wagons towards the end of WWII, I greatly appreciate the sacrifice of our service men and woman to keep and make the world a safer place. My grandmother used to tell us a story of a nice American serviceman who let them cross a bridge into Hungary, even though he wasn't supposed to. She said she owed everything we have to him and wished she knew his name so she could thank him. Our family remembers. Happy Memorial Day. Sabena

RevMelinda said...

One of the most amazing things about my job (and there are many, as I'm a hospice chaplain) is the opportunity to meet so many veterans--these days, I mostly meet veterans of WWII but I've also been privileged to serve Korean and Vietnam War era veterans as well. It is an honor to be trusted with their stories and to care for men and women who sacrificed so much and who saw and endured unimaginable things. My own father and brother are Navy vets. So much to remember and to be thankful for today.

paz said...

I am also an Air Force brat who grew up to be a severe critic of armed intervention as a solution to the vast majority of national and international conflicts. I honor our soldiers, including those in my family. Part of this honor includes questioning the judgement of leaders who put them in harms way.

Lynne said...

Paz has said it all...and be proud of your family. Just thank God that they are still with you Candy. (And that daughter of yours is awfully cute.)

cs harris said...

Sabena, that's such an incredible story. Your grandmother sounds like a very strong woman.

RevMelinda, I can't tell you how much I admire you for what you do. I spent 12 days at my mother's side in hospice (they kept telling me she wouldn't live out the night; she was stubborn); I watched some beds turn over three times. Sitting awake beside her, listening to people cry out in the night, "Lord, please take me!" And, "Jesus, why don't you love me?"--well, let's just say I've never been the same since. I don't know how you do it, but I so respect what you do.

Paz, very well said.

Lynne, thank you. And yes, we were very lucky. Everyone came home.

Anonymous said...

C-I don't think any of us can truly appreciate what our lives would be like without the bravery, dedication and sacrifice of our service men and women. God bless all your family who have served and those serving now. Happy Memorial Day!
Best, Ali

Jan Dils said...

Very cool! Continuing the faith to one's country, that is. Kudos to your headstrong family. May you be provided with all the benefits that you deserve, as soon as you have to hang your hats and move on into a civilian life.

Jan Dils @ Fight4Vets

Susan J. said...

I recently read a brilliant novel called 'Under An English Heaven' by Robert Radcliffe, about the American air crews who were over here in Britain during World War II. It's such a moving story, about how they came to be accepted and respected by the local people in places like Suffolk. I was shocked to find out how many were killed in daylight raids over Germany. It is a very moving book and based on what really happened. How sad for those young men to be killed so far from home. Many who survived forged lifelong friendships with people here and visited after the war.

cs harris said...

Ali, thank you.

Jan, I'm very much the odd man out in my family!

Susan, sounds fascinating. After my dad died, I found a stack of photos he'd taken of a funeral in the South Pacific. I always think of war cemeteries as we see them now, covered in grass, but this was freshly dug graves as far as you could see. It was shocking.

Susan J. said...

Yes, we are currently commemorating a hundred years from Britain's entering World War I in this country and to see all the war graves in France is heartbreaking. My grandfather was in both World Wars I and II, he was only sixteen when he joined the army in World War I. He was taken prisoner and suffered greatly as a prisoner of war. He was half starved and made to march across Germany to work in the mines.
Did you ever see the film 'Oh What a Lovely War'?. It's a wonderful film that shows the futility of World War I by making an unusual kind of musical out of it, directed by Richard Attenborough in 1969. It was partly filmed on Brighton pier, which is sadly no more. It's out on DVD now, it seems as fresh and moving as the day it was made.
You must be very proud of your father.

cs harris said...

Susan, your poor grandfather! I wonder how many men fought in both wars? It's been forever since I saw Oh What a Lovely War; I'll have to look it up. And somehow I missed the loss of Brighton pier; how sad.

Susan J. said...

My grandfather was in the Territorial Army, a kind of part time army, in between the wars and therefore he was called up before war was even officially declared in 1939. That's maybe why he was in both wars. He was at Dunkirk in World War II and escaped by the skin of his teeth. All my family and my husband's family lived in London during World War II, so they had the bombing to contend with as well. My mother worked in a telephone exchange in Battersea in South London and gave out air raid warnings wearing a tin hat and my father was an air raid warden's assistant and had to deal with clearing up body parts in the aftermath of raids on Croydon, South London, at the age of fifteen. My husband's father was at Dunkirk and had to swim for it to escape to a ship. He was also in the Queen's First Infantry Regiment and in the Eighth Army in Africa. He was wounded twice. Like many soldiers, he preferred not to talk about his experiences. My grandmother lost her first fiance in World War I, his name was Bobby and he was a despatch rider, a very dangerous post I believe. I don't think she ever quite got over his death.
Did you realise all the songs in 'Oh What A Lovely War' were actually songs written at the time, many by soldiers in the conflict?

cs harris said...

Susan, I didn't realize that, no. WWI was so hideous, it's hard to believe they did it again just 20 years later. All those young men.

RevMelinda said...

Candy, thank you for your kind words. I am so glad you were there to sit vigil with your mother in the heart of the night which can be so long and so frightening. I guess I'm a weirdo but I truly love my work--hearing our patients' stories, sitting with them in the face of unanswerable questions, and helping them transition from this life to the next as peacefully as possible. Blessings to you.

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