What Are You Staring At? He’s Just My Dad

I wrote this essay about my dad, a Vietnam vet, last Memorial Day. I am reposting it in honor of Memorial Day 2016.

Rogue Ant

Dad and Julie age 1 in 1972 Dad and me in 1972.

My dad attracted a lot of attention when I was growing up. Wherever we went, kids pointed and tugged on their moms’ and dads’ sleeves.

“Look! What happened to that man’s legs?”

“It’s not polite to stare,” their parents would usually whisper, tugging them in the opposite direction.

When I was a child myself, I took little notice of these occurrences. Having a dad with no legs was as normal to me as having a dad with legs was to the kids who stared and pointed. I remember staring back at them being drug away like they were in trouble, and wondering what the big deal was.

Yeah, so what? My dad stepped on a landmine in Vietnam and lost his legs. That’s the one-line story my dad told me. And that’s the one-line story I told others, if they asked.

I can’t remember what, if anything, dad said to these people in those early years, or if he…

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