My father, Don Patrick Desonier, born March 12, 1918 in Toronto, Canada is my Veterans Day hero. He was still living in Toronto when World War II broke out in the late 1930’s. A young man of approximately 21 years of age, my dad voluntarily signed up for the Canadian Army and served in the artillery division as a Second Lieutenant or – because the Canadian Army spoke both English and French – Sous-lieutenant.
My father was bi-lingual because his father was French Canadian – a descendant of French settlers in Canada. The correct spelling of our last name was Desaulniers, but when my parents and us three kids settled in the United States, my parents grew weary of the mispronunciation – and misspelling – of our surname, so in the 1950’s, mom and dad had our surname legally changed to its current spelling.
When my father died on October 13, 2007, many of his effects were distributed to my brother and sister, and me. I have some amazing black and white photos from WWII as well as a couple German handguns – both of which are locked in a wall-safe in our house. A couple years before my father died from complications of Alzheimer’s, he and I had a brief, but eye-opening discussion about his war service.
My father fought in France, Germany, and England and saw it all – I know this because I asked him. Our conversation went something like this:
“Dad, I have to assume that because you were in the artillery and served in several WWII hotspots, you were called upon to kill those who were designated as the enemy – right?”
“Yes, Irene. No one wants to take someone’s life, but when it’s a question of the enemy taking a bullet or you and your buddies, you choose the former.”
“So dad, you saw your buddies get severely injured and even killed – didn’t you?”
“Yes – that’s the way it is on the battlefield.”
I looked at my father, tears in my eyes, and for the first time in my life, I said, “Thank you for your service, dad. I appreciate all that you did to defend what was right during World War II.”
His response – and I paraphrase: “It’s just something you do, Irene, because it needs to be done. No one likes war, but thus far no war has ever ended on its own. Unfortunately wars don’t just peter out.”
Those of us Baby Boomers who have parents that fought in the earlier wars may not have considered what they endured before they started a family and got on with the rest of their lives. I hadn’t, but I’m grateful that in my late 40’s, I asked dad about his military service, and I thanked him for it.
As is customary each month, I am providing celebrations – some fiction, some non-fiction – that you might consider in November.
Month: Aviation History Month; and National Novel Writing Month (very interested in the latter because I am still struggling to finalize my own novel)
- Nov. 2: Book Lovers Day (I am an extreme book lover); and move your clocks back one hour when you go to bed today if you have been observing Daylight Savings Time)
- Nov. 6: Marooned without a Compass Day
- Nov. 8: Cook Something Bold Day (for some of you, that may simply be a peanut butter & jelly sandwich)
- Nov. 11: Veteran’s Day (thank you everyone who is serving, or has served, your country in this manner)
- Nov. 13: World Kindness Day (if everyone observed this holiday every day, there would be no need for wars)
- Nov. 15: Clean Your Refrigerator Day; and America Recycles Day (makes sense to me)
- Nov. 17: World Peace Day (see Nov. 13)
- Nov. 21: Great American Smokeout (millions have quit so it must be possible – will this be your chance?)
- Nov. 23: National Adoption Day (in honor of my sister, Mary, and her daughter, Kristina)
- Nov. 28: Thanksgiving Day (which doesn’t have to be about food – it can be about feeling and expressing your gratitude)
- Nov. 29: You’re Welcome Day
- Nov. 30: Stay at Home Because you are Well Day
Get ready everyone – there are so many worthy-of-mentioning “holidays” in November, you’ll be blown away!
- Peanut Butter Lovers Month
- Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month www.alz.org
- National Hospice Month www.nhpco.org
- National Adoption Awareness Month – my favorite because both my sister, and my niece, are adopted and my life is better as a result! www.adoptioncouncil.org.
Some of the daily celebrations:
1st: Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day
2nd: Plan Your Epitaph Day – would you trust just anyone to tell the truth?
6th: Marooned without a Compass Day – a/k/a Election Day
7th: Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day
8th: Cook Something Bold Day (well, it is Peanut Butter Lovers Month!!!
11th: Veterans Day – thank you every Vet of past & present military conflicts!!!
12th: National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day
13th: World Kindness Day – pass it forward everyone!!!
15th: Clean Your Refrigerator Day and America Recycles Day – it figures.
15th: Great American Smokeout – see November 19th if participating
17th: National Adoption Day – I love you Mary and Kristina!!!
19th: Have a Bad Day Day – see November 15th
22nd: Thanksgiving, followed by…
23rd: Sinkie Day – casual eating while standing at your sink www.sinkie.com
23rd: Black Friday – the busiest shopping day of the Holiday season and Buy Nothing Day (I don’t make up the rules)
26th: Shopping Reminder Day – do we really need this reminder?
30th: Stay at Home Because You’re Well Day – because it’s more fun than staying home when you’re sick!