For Alfredo Prado Hector Stanford, immigrant from Panama; father of the author
There are two branches of serice seldom spoken of except when they are obvious by their absence:the Coast Guard and the Merchant Marines. My dad served in the Merchant Marines as a ship’s chief cook. There were few employment opportunities available dockside in the 50’s for a canal-zone born mestizo immigrant in segregated Norfolk, Virginia.
He went to sea. He saw to it that thousands of they who served on ships were properly nourished. After that last voyage during the Vietnam conflict he was never the same. Living with a family member afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrom was my first real contact with the effect of war. It is why I became a pacafist; why I never followed my brother into the Navy. But, to hear any one of them in spoken of in a dishonoring way, or made fun of, as I heard in this last election campaign season, makes me sad. Today I salute the “taken for granted service” of all who are feeding, provisioning, munitioning, maintaining, and otherwise “taking care” of the servicepeople of all the armed forces. I honor all of the people who launder, repair, refuel and refurbish with honor. and love.
Happy Veterans Day,