My father served in the U.S. Army in the early 1950s – shortly after the Iron Curtain descended between Eastern and Western Europe. He was stationed in the heart of West Berlin at a time when several divisions of Soviet tanks surrounded the divided city.
His job was to drive his Jeep outside of the city – into the farmland – where he would peer through binoculars at the Soviet tank commanders who were peering through their binoculars at him.
Each waited for the other to make a threatening gesture or movement. Most of the time, my dad drank black coffee and ate German sausage sandwiches made with pumpernickel bread.
The war everyone feared would happen never broke out – and nearly forty years later, the Soviet Union imploded. Dad was delighted: he hated the Russians and continued to despise them long after Boris Yeltsin ushered in “democracy” to Mother Russia. Ever the equal-opportunity bigot, my father insisted that “the only good Russian is a dead Russian.” As for the Ukrainians, I won’t repeat his commentary.
My father was born in 1932 and was therefore the product of his generation – one that used the word “nigger” with a certain casual comfort that makes my skin crawl. But that was then…this is now. My father died in 2006. Though I never really liked him, I loved him more than I can describe and I miss that insolent and insufferable prick more than you can ever imagine.
I will say this for the Old Man: he deeply respected our military and never failed to honor those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. After all, he was one of them: he stood face to face with the greatest threat to humanity that ever existed and lived long enough to see that threat collapse.
At the time he served, roughly 600,000 of my father’s fellow warriors died on the field of battle. Since then, the number has climbed to over 650,000. To those selfless warriors – and to my late father – I dedicate this video in honor of Memorial Day: