I’ve often thought that Memorial Day weekend was like the All-Star break for tired landscapers: a couple of days to rest in the middle of the busiest season of the year. But seriously, I really do love Memorial Day and I’m well aware of why we observe it. (I am tired though).
This Memorial Day was even more meaningful to our family as my Dad, Thomas Busta Sr., served as the 2012 Grand Marshal of the Andover Memorial Day Parade. He rode in the parade and then was honored in a ceremony in the town green. The crowd got to hear the story of how my Dad enlisted in the Marines in May of 1944, while the war with Japan was in full swing. After several months of basic training he was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Division (the Thundering Third) and shipped out west to prepare for his mission. He was one of 25,000 Marines sent to secure the small island of Iwo Jima. I guess at the time it didn’t sound like it was going to be such a difficult job… 25,000 Marines to capture an island that was eight square miles? But of course it turned out to be one of the most famous and hard-fought battles of World War II.
The battle lasted for 36 days and there were over 26,000 casualties and 6,800 men killed. During his 30 days on the island, my Dad was on one hour and off one hour, so basically he had no rest for the entire time. I can only imagine what this must have been like. My Dad was one of two survivors from his platoon. The war with Japan ended not long after, but Dad stayed on until June of 1946 as an MP in Okinawa, Japan.
Thanks to everyone who attended the ceremony. It was such a great day! Dad was proud and we were all extremely proud of him. To see all the other veterans and hear their stories was awesome. It was also great to remember those who are no longer with us, and those who are actively serving today to protect our freedom. It’s pretty humbling, to say the least.