23 hours ago
Monday, May 25, 2009
Alton Glen Akin, Sr., was in the navy for four years. Not because he was patriotic. Not because he was called to duty. He enlisted to escape what he felt was a cruel world, and to fight a battle within. His world had become full of petty troubles, and drinking. He joined the Navy to become a man, because that is what he thought was needed to help make him more responsible. His own father had enlisted, but a few weeks later War World II had ended. Neither of them fought in active duty, or saw the nightmare of war that many have.
My grandfather had built glider planes since he could pick up tools. He dreamed of soaring with birds. He died wanting to be recognized for his accomplishments, but all he had gotten was his own personal touch of a plane on his tombstone. My father spent much of his life wanting his father to make up for time spent being away with those planes, and not with him. My father was always running away his whole life. I did not understand until just before he passed away in 2004 on my son's seventeenth birthday.
Daddy shared the story with me about the struggle to forgive his father, and himself. He had shared many stories with us about being stationed in Japan; going for a swim off the ship one day, and almost drowning as he drifted to far out into the ships wake; about the fellow officer who dived in after him and saved his life. Many many stories were told that involved his sense of humor, KP duties and thousands of peeled potatoes, but yet the things he talked about were so crazy; that now I look back and think he almost had a death wish. He was in trouble by the Military Police so many times, that I am surprised I found his honorable discharge papers after he passed away.
Daddy told me that he was sorry for all the things he had done. He had realized that he neglected his own children while drowning in the sorrow of his own fatherly ghosts. My father told my own son before he passed to never join the service. He felt that all he learned how to do was to drink and carouse more than if you had not joined. He was still blaming the Navy for what he had brought on himself earlier in life.
What my father never knew is that I was so proud of him being in the Navy; that I tried to join myself, but was turned away due to my eyesight. At one time they did not deny a person with poor eyesight, but somewhere down the road they became strict. I knew I was wasting my life with the parties, the running away from my poor family life, the alcoholic father, and abusive mother. I thought the Navy might help me make better choices. Later in life I saw that I could make a difference without that career path, and I am doing just fine.
I realized today after reading many stories about active duty fathers; that my fathers own story was a different kind of hero story. He fought a different kind of battle. He was an alcoholic, and suffered from depression. During his lifetime he had not embraced that what he had was a disease. He came from a long line of alcoholics, and that is why his own father did not drink. They could not. My own son has discovered he has a low tolerance for drinking, and has decided finally to focus on school and his career. We talk about my father, and the battles we have overcome.
I love my father, and his father. I love my son. Forgiveness and love are two weapons that could wipe out many wars, but we each have to fight battles the best that we can. So many battles have been fought for so many reasons, but I do not agree with war. I am patriotic, and so was my father, but I hope my own son does not have to go into any battles outside of his own.
I took the photo above this weekend and thought about those who have fought for freedom. I think about my cousin who went to Vietnam, and has never recovered from the scars. I think about the ones over there now, and wish it all could be resolved. I will always remember my daddy, and how for his own reasons he chose the navy, and how he loved the water. How at peace he was during those times in his boat. The further from shore he was, the happier he got. Out there, he had no battles.
Alton Glen Akin, Sr- December 4th, 1925-04; I found his discharge paper when I had to take over his affairs after being diagnosed with Parkinson's, and turned them in to have the flag ceremony at his funeral service. Daddy might not have wanted this, as he never spoke of the Navy in a total positive way, but his children were proud he served those four years in the Navy, and he still deserved to be honored. Joining the service is a choice; even if it is for the wrong reasons sometimes. If my son decides one day to join the service; it is his choice, and I will honor his wishes.
This is for Corine...