I then went to an older part of the cemetery. I found the grave of my Dad’s boyhood best friend Kenny Miller. Kenny was killed when his bomber was shot down over Holland in 1944. He was originally buried in a Dutch cemetery, then moved to the American military cemetery in Holland before his body was repatriated at the request of his mother in 1947.
My Dad seldom talked about Kenny or World War II or growing up during the Depression. Years after he died, my Mother mentioned that my Dad would always go to Fort Snelling around Memorial Day to put some flowers on Kenny’s grave. He would cut some peonies from the plants in our yard and wish God bless to his long gone best friend.
Kenny has become a symbol of the Greatest Generation in my mind. He’s the poor kid, dealt a crappy hand in life, who volunteered to defend his America. He was my father and a million other boys of the Depression who still rose to give their all for their country. Most made it back home, some didn’t. Kenny represents those who didn’t. He doesn’t have any kids to remember him. He doesn’t have anyone to honor him specifically.
Today I became Kenny’s surrogate kid. I am sure that my Dad would be willing to share. I found Kenny’s grave. I put some peonies from my yard next to the tombstone. I said a little prayer of thanks to Kenny and all the rest who gave all to make my America.