Thursday, November 11, 2010
A Peacoat on Veterans Day
This is my father's U.S. Navy peacoat, circa 1964. The emblem on the arm of the coat signifies he last wore it when he was a Petty Officer First Class. He and my mother gave it to me as a Christmas present about ten years ago. I have three brothers so it was a lovely surprise to be the one to receive it. It's in 30 ounce wool, very heavy and warm, and sewn into its black satin lining is a label with my father's name, written in his own hand, and service number. It is a wearable piece of my father's history that I treasure.
Known for its durability and warmth, the peacoat was originally worn by sailors of European navies and the U.S. Navy adopted it as part of their uniform as early as 1881. When I wear it I am reminded of growing up in the military and how being surrounded by those clean-cut uniforms of the Navy and Marine Corps as a child have influenced the clean-cut styles I gravitate towards as an adult.
My father, who retired as a Chief Warrant Officer 4, served in the Vietnam War and was the recipient of two Purple Hearts, the medal given to servicemembers wounded in combat. My brother, a major in the Marine Corps, served in the war in Iraq. On this Veterans Day, I want to thank them, and all veterans, for their service to this country.
I would also like to recognize the spouses and families of servicemembers in a war zone. They keep the home fires burning while their loved ones are away and it is a tough job, fraught daily with uncertainty and fear, but also with love and pride. They, too, serve with honor, and they are not thanked enough.