My dad was in the Army, but I don’t know if he served overseas or really what he did. I never asked enough questions and I wish I had listened closer. I’m sure he shared this info with me because we shared everything. I’m an only child and he had me late in life so we were pretty inseparable while he was alive. When he passed at age 81, Richard John Collins had bought a one way ticket to Chicago knowing he would never return to his home in Southern Illinois.
He passed away here in Chicago with me on October 11, 1985, before I had a chance to talk to him about his full life. I was young and carefree and, quite frankly, too wrapped up in my own world to be that concerned with his. It’s one of my biggest regrets. He had so much to tell me.
He was born November 15, 1903. Can you imagine all he’d seen and lived through? He was a newborn when the Wright Brothers made their first controlled-flight airplane trip and when Henry Ford designed the first mass produced cars. He was two when Albert Einstein developed the theory of relativity and the Boy and Girl Scouts were founded. When Nijinsky and Pavlova performed Diaghilev’s ballets, he was ten. He would’ve seen Charlie Chaplin’s first silent film. When he was 25, he would’ve had the joy of seeing Mickey Mouse introduced to the world by Walt Disney. He lived through two World Wars and probably saw Gone with the Wind and the Wizard of Oz when they were originally released. Awwwww…..just imagine the things he saw.
It’s too late now, but I hope he knows how much I miss him and wish I could have that time back. So, on this Memorial Day weekend, I bow my head to all veterans, past and present, who have served to make our lives safe and free. I want to hear their stories and I want to ask questions. You should, too.
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