Veterans Day 11/11/2002


He died while watching a John Wayne movie. He simply fell asleep in his chair and never woke up.

He was in active duty in Korea, US Navy. When he returned home from the war he was not the same. He suffered severe depression and was hospitalized. In those days they did not know how to treat depression so over 100 electric shock treatments were administered to him by the VA Hospital. He was fried and diagnosed as having schizophrenia. But as one VA case worker told me many years later, he believed the schizophrenia was caused form the PTSD and the shock treatments.

I was the only one at the grave side service that winter day sitting on that cold concrete bench. Just me and a minister who said the prayer.

There was my Dad’s coffin draped with the American flag. Taps was played but it seemed distant and far away. Then the two solders ceremonially folded the flag into that familiar triangle. The female soldier came and kneeled at my feet and presented the flag to me saying in almost a whisper, “On behalf of the President of the United States and the Chief of Naval Operations, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s service to this Country and a grateful Navy.” Her eyes were so full of compassion and I could tell her heart was breaking. Was it because she saw my utter loneliness or because I was there completely alone at such a difficult time? I will never know.
Then much to my surprise, three shots rang out.

And as quickly as it began it was over.


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