and what falls out

Just Me

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A small Coastal town called Saint Marys, Georgia, United States
Hi, my name is Ronnie. I am an American Contemporary Folk Artist. I conjure up images, then paint them on canvas. This makes me happy. Nice to meet you.

Inspiration from Brilliant Minds

Inspiration from Brilliant Minds
Painting is an attempt to come to terms with life. There are as many solutions as there are human beings. - George Tooker

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Good Memorial Day

Monday is Memorial Day in America.
It's a time for family gatherings and backyard cookouts. A time to visit a military cemetery and perhaps leave a token of thanks and gratitude to a fallen soldier, sailor or airman. Joe and I will travel to St. Marys where on Monday a wreath will be placed on the St. Marys river.

I grew up the daughter of a US Army aviator. My dad was a member of the Army Air Corp, a veteran of the Korean War and Vietnam War.
I cut my teeth while watching young soldiers, paratroopers in training, jump from the mammoth jump towers at Fort Benning. I adored military parades and the music of John Philip Sousa.
I also loved planes, helicopters, anything that flew. And my father was a pilot. I mean PILOT! When he smiled, I swear little stars flashed from his snowy white smile. He was my personal hero.

When I was nine years old my father took me flying over farmer's fields. Dad was attending flight school at Fort Dix, NJ at the time. Illegal as hell, he had my mother bring my older sister and me to a grassy field where he landed an Army L-19 Birddog. Picture a light weight, army- brown, highwing, two-seater aircraft, it's wings painted with the star and stripes.

It was a beautiful day. As the three of us stood in the tall grass of the field, Mom pointed toward the sky. We watched as a tiny plane grew larger, then landed. My hair whipped against my face from the rush of the propeller, then with all the trust in the world for our handsome young father, my sister and I climbed aboard.

I had flown once before on a long trip across the breadth of America and up to the Aleutian Islands and then across the endless Pacific to the island of Japan. It was 1952, the airliner was not a jet, but a propeller driven plane! But today was different. It was filled with spontaneous spirit and that touch of danger that my dad embodied.

As Dad motioned to us, and with Mom's help, we jumped into the single seat behind our dad, sharing the harness intended for a backseat observer. Within minutes, Dad opened the throttle and we spun around to take off. The plane felt as light as a balloon under us. With each bounce across the grass it seemed to want to leap into the air!

I think Dad took that little plane through every maneuver he'd learned and knowing my dad, probably more. We dove and climbed and rolled and did gigantic loops in the air that made our stomachs float into our chests and I heard myself yelling a squeeky little girl Whoaaaaaaaa! in unison with my sister. We looked at each other in wide grinned joy and we both knew we were the luckiest girls in the whole wide world.

Have a good Memorial Day folks.
Here's to my dad and all the other veterans who have passed on. Thanks. Thanks an awful lot.


Lisa said...

it all sounds wonderful and yes, we should always remember the sacrifices of those who went before us

Kay said...

My father was Army National Guard for over 40 years. He taught me three things about demonstrating patriotism:
1. There are rules for flying the US flag-follow them.
2. Stand up for the National Anthem.
3. Show respect for those who serve-they earned it.

Rebecca Ramsey said...

What a beautiful post! I love your descriptions of what it was like to ride with your dad. Lovely.

I'll be celebrating too. We met so many great people during Todd's time in the Air Force.
Have a great weekend, my friend!

JaxPop said...

Ronnie - What a great post. The meaning & purpose of Memorial Day is all to often lost. It has become nothing more than a day off with pay for most Americans. (I've been guilty of this myself at times.)

Your dad sounds like a great guy. Maybe he's up there playin' pinochle with mine nowadays.

Hope you & Joe have a great weekend.

Susan said...

What a wonderful post and such a marvelous memory. Thanks for sharing this. I will be remembering and honoring my own family members and all the others that so graciously served to keep us free. Susan

aliceinparis said...

Now I know where you get your pizazz! What a dad. Thanks for sharing that story, precious memories for sure:)

Halliehoop said...

Wow! Loved your post! You were inspired by your memories and love for your dad and thus wrote a beautiful illuminating tribute that will live on along with your memories of your dad. And to think I wrote about my toenail polish for my Memorial Day post. I am bowing my head in a prayer for each of those who have sacrificed to keep us safe.

turtue said...

We are lucky, us Gunn girls. Dad took us all flying, by tearing through the air, and by teaching us to view life as an endless series of possibilities.
Thanks, Ronnie, for this story. I'd heard it before from Dad, Mom, and Andi.
It's fun to hear it again from your always tangible point of view.
Give hugs to Joe, and thanks.
Love you- enjoy the last bits of St. Mary's spring.

The Vintage Sister Studio said...

What great memories you have!!
I live about 30 minutes from Fort Dix. Enjoy your weekend!!

Mercy said...

that sounds to amazing to be true. not that im calling you a lier lol


Lydia said...

I LOVE this post! yes, Ft. Benning and Ft. Dix, Dad was civil servant Army Nat'l Guard.(Master Sgt.) He loved taking his Snoopy sheets on drill to Ft. Dix every year.

I didn't get rides in the air (although I've flown hundreds and hundreds of flights while taking tour groups around the world), but I would go to work with him on my day's off when he really wanted company, type gov't documents(simple stuff), play school, and sometimes ride home in Jeeps with no doors, get french fries on the way home- and I always knew I was the luckiest girl, with the absolute best Dad in the world. :)

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