Dad and I have regular weekly video calls and I love our conversations. Yesterday, after talking about the latest reading - The Snow Leopard (my dad's favorite book and one I just finished), somehow he got started talking about his time in the Military - specifically his assignment in northern italy during the cold war.
I always knew he did intelligence, but beyond that, he never really shared details, and I never really asked. I knew Italy was where he met my mom (but they did not get involved with each other - my mom was married to another officer, and my dad had a girlfriend). He would tell me about intercepting and decoding Russian messages. And he was on duty when the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia in 68.
When he arrived, he was told to wear plainclothes and wait for a contact to meet him from his Milan train! He was standing there waiting, and someone came up and said his last name and they went off to the base. When in uniform, he wore tailored fatigues, jump boots and a black beret!
This reminded me of some of my own favorite high school/college clothes - black paratrooper boots (with zippers) and a blue beret (German military surplus) that my dad put some of his military pins on. I would wear black tailored pants, and was generally a trouble maker. For a hot minute I considered going into the military, and thought that since I have such issues with authority it might not be a good idea. Sometimes I wonder if I made a mistake.
These days, I think a lot about military service. As I've learned more about military structure over the years, I've come to learn that the US Military is basically a socialist structure. When you're in, you can't leave of your own accord. I always saw that as a bad thing, but it changes human behavior. I'm starting to understand the positive benefit of bureaucracy and things taking time. And in the Military there are values. Values that I hold - honesty, integrity, hard work - these things are hard to find in the business world these days.
It makes me sad in ways. I'll never have the chance to serve my country the way my dad did. So instead I serve humanity, and hope that the spark of consciousness catches. In the meantime, Dad and I will keep up our video chats, and talk about life, philosophy, the universe and our memories. xxx Dad. I am your daughter.