Note: I posted this a month ago, and am reposting for Memorial Day. I also just found this sweet picture of my Mom and Dad from 1942, on his graduation from UMd. They had just married. He was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army, but joined the Marines soon thereafter.
My father served in the US Marines for almost 30 years. I heard his stories many times. But it wasn’t until my daughter Erin was videotaping him for the family when he was in his mid-80’s, that I began to fully understood how much he and so many others of his generation gave. I had known that he was in the Pacific in WWII for a long time, but only when he spoke for the camera, did I realize if was for 2 1/2 years. With one 2 week furlough. He used that furlough to meet my mother in San Francisco. Then back to the Pacific, and the eventual surrender of Japan. Mom wrote him everyday. I had heard that story. I thought perhaps it was an exaggeration. But as he looked into the camera, I could almost see him opening those letters. It was true. Every day. Even if only a sentence. “I love you”. “I miss you”. Sometimes she wrote pages. Far out in the Pacific, the troops got mail late, very late, and in big batches. Dad would open them, dozens at a time. And he would read the words sent from Mom’s Distant Heart to his. Their distant love, which stood the test of time and war, inspired this song.
Dad is in a nursing home now at age 93, mending a broken hip. Mom passed away a few years ago. And on his nightstand is a picture of them from the 40’s, he in his Marine uniform, she in that great 40’s style. They were quite the handsome couple, and I can imagine them dancing to one of those great old swing bands. So when I got home from visiting the Colonel today, I had to put this story and song up, to honor him and his classy lady.
ps- I should write a song specifically about those letters. But this one is about my parents Distant Hearts from long ago. And to all who serve now, and are distant from the ones they love.
pps- no matter how you feel about war, if you feel, you have a heart. And hearts, hearts full of love, can heal even the wounds of war. And perhaps some wondrous day, our hearts will find a way to make war no more.
Hear the song about distant love, here: http://johnpaulmcneil.bandcamp.com/