My father was a Cold War military cryptographer. My family had the privilege of moving from post to post with him. I won’t take valuable space to list the many locations I lived, something military brats tend to do, but I will say we moved a lot and lived in five countries, six if you still count Texas as being a sovereign nation. I almost can’t remember how many additional stateside places we lived. Other family members, blood relations and in-laws, served and died in uniform, each reinforcing the conduct and culture the military requires its troops and dependents (the family) to follow. And when a classmate’s father died on active duty, we who remained would say goodbye to our friend as they resumed civilian life, wondering if we would be next to return to wherever our official papers said was home.
Memorial Day has deep, shared significance for military families—our relatives give life, limb, and spirit in service to the United States. We family members support them during their active-duty years and if they survive conflict, in their veteran years. And Memorial Day is when we remember their service. We stop and watch as the jets or the WWII planes fly over the Los Angeles National Cemetery in Westwood or we’ll drive by the National Cemetery boundary along Sepulveda and watch the ever-straight ranks of white tombstones flash by.
Below is a list of books on Memorial Day and the American military experience, including the family’s experience.