Today is Memorial Day, and I am departing from my usual third person to remember personally some of the veterans who played so large a part in my life.
To the left is Joe Joyce, USMC, Korea, who died earlier this month. Many of our readers are familiar with Joe from his posts on the Wild Geese Forum. Irascible, often funny, sometimes profane, but always passionate, Joe was a dedicated Republican with a love of Ireland and a former past president of the Virginia Unit of NORAID. There are over two hundred posts regarding Joe's death on the Irish forum, more on ours at WGT, many of those posts flaming him, which is something I'm sure has him ROTFLOL(rolling on the floor laughing out loud, for those of you who don't know the computer slang).
I first "met" Joe over ten years ago when we both corresponded with an Irish political listserv(a group of people who write about common interests) run from Texas. Joe got flamed regularly, which means he got insulted online for all to read. Joe was an ardent Republican, but some of the positions he took did not agree with those of other Republicans, especially those of the Socialists. When you realized who Joe really was, it was not surprising; he had served in the Marines in Korea and come home to the Bronx to work as New York City police officer. His positions were not always PC, and he was proud of that fact.
Joe later moved to Virginia and married his beloved Viola, who was an artist and the mother of his son. He found work there as a police polygraph officer.
We began emailing one another outside of the listserv, and I saw a softer side of Joe. When my mother, Jane Jameson(US Navy, World War II)was on her deathbed, Joe said he'd have his NORAID friends pray for her. To the amusement of some relatives, I told my comatose mother that my friend had the whole IRA praying for her. When I lost my father, Jack Jameson(US Army Air Corps and US Army, World War II), fifteen months later, Joe was online with me, mailing me jokes and games to keep up my spirits. He patiently endured my endless diatribes about life in general and politics in New York. At times, we'd agree to disagree. It saved fights. We never flamed one another, although my daughter, scared by a Halloween prank, did take him to task.
Tragedy struck his life four years ago when he lost his Viola to cancer, and it was my turn to play the supportive role. He described it in his blog as "the best of times, the worst of times" quoting Charles Dickens, Indeed, his blog is bracketed by those two entries; his last piece, dated February 19, 2007 echoed one of his first blog pieces, of the previous August. His last email to me, dated February, warned of disaster with a Guiliani administration. Joe always remembered the former mayor as the prosecutor who persecuted Joe Doherty.
I used to email Joe on Memorial Day and send an e-card; this year I cannot do that. Memorial Day for me is somewhat empty, as was Mother's Day and will be Father's Day. Forgive me for stepping away from my role as journalist because I truly want to honor these former veterans who went on to be vibrant members of society as well as the 985 service personnel who have perished in Iraq since last Memorial Day.
Senper Fi, Joe. May God hold you in the palm of his hand, and may you walk hand in hand with Viola. Oh, and say hi to my parents for me, too, please, I know you will all guard the gate for the rest of us.
Culture Editor, www.thewildgeese.com
Photo credit: Joe Joyce and Mabh, from Joe's website