Today, cookouts and barbeques with family and friends are the order of the day . . . kicking off the summer season for most Americans. Amidst them all, you'll see flags on people's houses, a splash of bunting here and there, and in the backs of our minds as we are polishing off yet another hot dog or playing backyard softball with the kids, we gratefully remember what this day represents.
I want to share a personal story with you: my late father, Sgt. Robert Duke, a veteran with over 22 years with the U.S. Army, proudly served during World War II in the Philippines and Guadalcanal. In fact, our doxie Duke is named after him (full AKC name: Sergeant Duke Hinton). Dad loved his service years, often sharing humorous stories of his zany experiences with family and friends, and we loved his gift of storytelling! As one of the main characters in I AM SHADOW, several of these stories are told through Shadow's eyes: the fence story, the Purple Heart story, the fishing story--well, you get the idea!
Although Dad and Shadow never really met, theirs would have been a mutual admiration society--Dad loved dachshunds, and they loved him. We had several wiener dawgs as I was growing up, with our first one named Elia, a red smooth female. She joined us while Dad was on tour of duty in Germany. We were hooked!
"Papa Duke" is Shadow's favorite person in I AM SHADOW. Weaving their relationship with threads of truth, intertwined with "what could have happened" if they had really known each other, was something I enjoyed creating.
I am sure you also have loved ones who have proudly served this nation to protect our freedoms. I salute all of them! Many have offered the supreme sacrifice of their lives. Although Dad lived to age 86, having a second career as a restauranteur, his military heritage will always be with our family. Thank you, our men and women in uniform, and for those of you currently serving somewhere far from home, our prayers go with you.
I still get misty-eyed when I hear "Taps" . . . happy Memorial Day.