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On Memorial Day, the One Unfair Park Item That Will Actually Make My Parents Proud

A personal aside this Memorial Day, if you'll pardon the indulgence. I was at the folks' house last night and noticed that Mom just added to her estimable collection of family photos this montage featuring family members who'd served in the military, among them her father (at the bottom left) and my brother (top left), who's currently training at an undisclosed location. My mother's father, Laurence Aronson of El Paso, served in the honor guard during World War I. And my brother -- Major Mike, whom I've mentioned before -- is the executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, otherwise known as "The Walking Dead," and prepping for his second tour in Iraq sooner than later. Did I ever mention that my brother received the Bronze Star from his first tour of duty? No? I should have. Hillcrest High, represent.

Mom's uncle Lawrence Reedman of El Paso is at the top right, and the man had one heck of a career -- one he seldom liked to talk about, no matter how much I begged whenever he'd come to visit. Mom jotted down a few of the highlights, among them: Uncle Honey was a technical sergeant with the 527 Bomb Squadron out of England, where he served as a top turret gunner and flight engineer on a B-17 Flying Fortress. Once, he was shot down over the English Channel, but the entire crew was rescued in the morning; for his service, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, a Purple Heart -- and, if I read Page 369 of the 1944-'45 American Jewish Year Book correctly, an oak leaf cluster.

The man at the bottom right -- the one who looks like a movie star -- is Mom's uncle Sam Aronson from Amarillo, a captain who served in the Army Medical Corps during WWII; Mom always spoke of Uncle Sam as though he was the Doc Graham of Amarillo. And the woman on the left, holding the baby? That's my father's aunt Mildred, who still lives here and who served as a first sergeant in the Women's Army Corp; so too did my father's aunt Norma. And the baby Aunt Millie's holding? My dad, whose bad back kept him out of the U.S. Naval Academy despite the Joe Pool appointment.

So, this is what pride feels like. Now, back to your barbecuing.

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