My parents had wanted a big family – they hoped for twelve, but settled on eight children. Mama never let go of her experiences during World War II and the lullabies she sang to us were, “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “She’s a Grand Old Flag,” “Over There,” and my personal favorite, (not the best for falling asleep to), “Oh, How I Hate to Get up in the Morning.”
My parents were married on Memorial Day, 1945. They thought it would be a perfect day, for then their anniversary would also memorialize those who had lost their lives while serving their countries. Working as a doctor and as a nurse in Mansfield, England, they had seen their share of death during the war.
Both of my parents had experienced the ugly side of the melding of cultures in this country: my father often bore the brunt of anti-Semitism and anti-Soviet sentiment although he was neither Jew nor Soviet. My mother had had rocks thrown at her when she was a child because she did not speak English, and the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross on her family’s lawn because they were “Frenchies” from Quebec. None of these things stopped my parents from enlisting in the army when the United States entered World War II.
“We did what we had to do. This country made us who we are. You give back.”
My father was stalwart in his faith that the United States would be always be a nation that did the right thing, that this nation’s greatness was in the mix of cultures and races of its people. My mother was always convinced that “we the people” would forever be proud to be Americans.