I don’t know if I’ve ever told this story but Memorial Day is just as good as any day to tell it.

Back in the 50s, my dad, newly married and a new citizen was drafted for Korea. He went down to the recruiting station with 4 other men from the neighborhood he was living in. He was eager to go to war to fight for a country that had been good to him as an Irish immigrant.

The doctor’s thought otherwise. Rheumatism was the cause of him being sent home. My mother was probably relieved and I think, my dad a bit disappointed, especially since the 4 other guys were good to go.

In those days it was embarrassing for men to not be selected to go to war. A bum knee, or a hereditary illness could keep you off the docket. My dad remembers the feeling well.

The four men who were my dad’s partners on that journey to the recruiting station were sent to fight in Korea. Each one of them died in service of their country. Not a one of them survived. The chances that my dad would have survived had he been drafted now seemed slim. And since I am a late-in-life baby, I may not have been born.

I don’t know the names of these four men. But I do know that they were brave enough to want to be selected for the war in Korea. It seems like a such a waste for their families to have had their father, husband, brother taken from them in the madness of war. But they and hundreds of nameless vets died fighting for freedom. Certainly there are some things worth fighting for and sometimes we cannot avoid war and conflict–or perhaps we just don’t know how?

While our prayers for peace remain, let’s also pray in gratitude for the lives that were OFFERED FREELY by brave men who fought for freedom, especially our young adults today in the military, where the largest number of Catholic young adults in one place are found.

And let’s also pray that nobody should ever have to make that same offering again.