My dad and I are on a quest. We have actually sent a letter, yes, actual words on real paper, to a US government office. And, we expect a reply. In our lifetime.
This quest was prompted by a newspaper article I read not long ago about ceremonies honoring Veterans on Memorial Day. It caught my eye because it mentioned a woman who was writing about her father’s experiences in World War II. She said that her dad had received the Army of Occupation Medal. I have been interested in my dad’s military service lately, I so I did a little research and found that he probably qualified for that medal too. In order to get it, he would have to submit a written request and a copy of his discharge papers.
I am visiting in Arkansas this week, so Dad and I looked through a box of his important papers. Surprise! His Enlisted Record and Report of Separation states that he qualifies for the Army of Occupation Medal – Japan and the World War II Victory Medal! So, we mailed a simple, direct letter requesting that he be sent the medals that he qualified for in 1946, and we included a copy of the paperwork that proves it. Normally, the request can be made online, but the website for the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) is inoperable due to the government “shutdown.” So, instead of a few mouse clicks and an electronic record of the process, his request is in the hands of the US Postal Service.
With evidence of the ineffectiveness of our government all around us, it’s easy to be cynical about our chances of ever getting a response. But, who knows? Maybe a real piece paper, with an honest-to-goodness signature of a US Veteran, in a business-sized envelope, with a Forever stamp on it, will find its way to someone who will make sure this gets accomplished. A couple of medals won’t make my dad any greater in our eyes, but seeing that he gets official recognition for his service to our country is definitely worth the effort.
“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.” ~Douglas MacArthur