Your RDA of Irony

Arms and the Finerman

November 11:  Happy Veterans’ Day.

I don’t think that a member of my family has seen combat since 1905. (Unless you count family dinners, in which case, I make Audie Murphy seem like a Quaker.) My great-uncle Joe fought in the Russo-Japanese War. Can you guess which side? The wrong one, of course. Aside from being on the losing side, he probably would have found the Mikado less Anti-Semitic than the Tsar.

Both of my parents served in the army during World War II. My mother, as a librarian at Ft. Hood, actually came closer to fighting the Civil War. Being in Texas, Ft. Hood had segregated facilities but that didn’t include the library. No one expected the “coloreds” to use it. One African-American did, however. When he returned some books, my mother apparently said something provocative by Southern standards: “thank you.” An army sergeant wrote her a reprimand: “White ladies do not talk to the coloreds.”

My father’s military career was less harrowing. He had a fine singing voice so he was assigned to the U.S. Army Chorus. Even though we were fighting a world war on two fronts, the military brass still required receptions with entertainment. Once the Army Chorus was sent to the Bahamas to serenade its governor, the Duke of Windsor. That was the closest my father ever came to a Nazi.

And if I am permitted to create my own heroic mythology, I can just imagine one of my ancestors as the morale officer at Masada. Of course, given the family resemblance, he would have been court-martialed for ordering in pizzas.

Be sure to wish to thank a veteran today…even if he is your cantankerous father-in-law.

And here, from last year, is my essay on Veterans’ Day at the Movies:

  1. Mary Ann Jung says:

    My father was in the Navy band in WWII but actually did see combat. He was sunk off of Savo Island by the Japanese and saved a man who couldn’ t swim, thereby receiving a commendation from Bull Halsey. He never mentioned the honor-always just said “I lost my best tube on the bottom of that ocean!”

    • Eugene Finerman says:

      Dear Mary Ann,

      I had to look up Savo Island. That was part of the Guadalcanal campaign.

      I am sorry that Navy band was not as pampered as the U.S. Army chorus. At least FDR did not charge your father for the lost instrument. Some of the Republican administrations would have.


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