At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, my father sat in a trench in France as the guns fell silent in Europe. He had returned to duty after a brief treatment for a huge mustard gas burn on his back. He was the only one of his comrades left alive after that attack.
The others couldn't withstand the searing pain when the gas penetrated their rain soaked uniforms. They died when they stood and began to tear off their clothing. Father said that it felt like a blowtorch on his back. The giant scar itched every moment of every day for the rest of his life.
Walt or Mack as he was called was extremely reluctant to discuss combat as all who experience it are. He sat for a photo in his uniform when he returned.
His uniform jacket hangs in my closet. It fits me perfectly. Wearing it on occasions like this helps connect me with this good man. I was born -his only child- late in his life; I was just 26 when he died. I wish he had lived longer.
This date (he called it Armistice Day) was understandably important to him, as it is to me.