it was the day before my birthday when the most significant present of years arrived in my life. as a family we were in the process of moving my grandmother to a new home, so where she could receive better care. the process turned up lots of great old memories, emotions and of course family history. You never know what little trinket might make the difference and it all feels like junk when you realize it need to get organized and moved. Yet, when that something special arrives in your hands you realize it is a blessing that this talisman had been saved,... for you.
"I thought you might like this," my father said handing me my grandfathers old dog-tags. placing it in my head I suddenly moved to silence. All I could muster was a quiet thank you. My father returned to work while I found a still room in which I could cry.
I never met my grandfather. War, having taken a toll on the men of his generation, he died before I was born. Having been blessed with his name, I've felt his presence my entire life. And knowing what he did, the hard work he did to bring his family to the United States in hopes of creating a better life, fighting as a guerrilla soldier during WWII and not only escaping the Batan Death March but saving another man's life in the process, I've always known my grandfather (my Lolo) as a hero. A hero, who's strength runs through me if I'm wise enough to call on it.
Fitting then, when this birthday approached, I was feeling at my lowest, his dog-tag arrived in my hand. this coming March will be the 30th anniversary of the US defeat at Corregidor, the moment that my Lolo had his character tested. It was the moment he choose a path away from death in favor of a difficult journey back to his family. It surely was a journey of faith, hope and love. A scary moment in life but an important moment in life where a man realize there is a reason to go on, something bigger than self.
As I brought the chain over my head to hang the dog-tag around my neck I was again moved by the energy of the moment. It had become clear, I had to finish the March begun by my grandfather 30 years earlier. My entire life I'd wanted to visit the land of my forefathers, the Philippines. Timing however has never been right. This time though, we'll make it right, because it feels like the right thing to do. I hope you'll help me.
"what can you get me, what do I need?" Cash, help me get passage to the Philippines. I have a date to walk in another man's shoes.