Monthly Archives: August 2013

My dad, Dan Antonietti, and Marine Mike Strahle share a tender moment at the Lima Company Memorial exhibit.

Thank You for Your Service

I had the honor and pleasure of spending special time with my parents this summer. Before every outing, my father would faithfully don his WW II Veteran cap. When he, Mom and I visited the Montana State Capitol to pay homage to the fallen Marines of Lima Company 3/25, several people shook Dad’s hand and said, “Thank you for your service, Sir.

The tender moment he and Marine Mike Strahle shared brought tears to my eyes. “Thank you for your service, Sir,” Mike said, echoing those words that made me proud.

Thank you for yours,” was Dad’s soft reply.

My dad, Dan Antonietti, and Marine Mike Strahle.
My dad, Dan Antonietti, and Marine Mike Strahle.

Surrounding us were the hauntingly beautiful paintings of The Lima Company Memorial: The Eyes of Freedom. Many of the twenty-three Marines who lost their lives in Iraq in 2005 were younger than my twenty-three- and twenty-six-year-old sons.

Twenty-year-old LCPL Nicholas Bloem from Belgrade, Montana.
Twenty-year-old LCPL Nicholas Bloem from Belgrade, Montana.
Admiring Lima Marine Travis William's handcrafted knife while Dad and Mom rewatched The Eyes of Freedom video.
Admiring Lima Marine Travis William’s handcrafted knife while Dad and Mom rewatched The Eyes of Freedom video.

Two weeks after visiting the memorial, Dad was hospitalized at Fort Harrison VA Medical Center. Over and over again I heard staff say to him and to others, Thank you for your service. Mike, an RN and a veteran, wrote those words on the whiteboard in Dad’s room.

Dad’s been home for one week. Following his discharge, we spent time looking through and sorting some of the treasures he’s collected throughout the years. On the title page of one of his books I found this poignant inscription:

The Greatest Generation.
The Greatest Generation.

The Greatest Generation indeed.

A few days ago while at dinner with Dad, Mom, a sister and a niece, I noticed a father and son watching as we played musical chairs—not once but twice—in our efforts to avoid an overhead draft. My assumption that the men had found our around-the-table antics humorous was dispelled when they stopped to shake Dad’s hand on their way out.

Thank you for your service,” the father, who looked to be about my age, said. His voice caught as he added, “My dad was in World War II. We lost him eighteen months ago.”

We said we were sorry to hear about their loss, but our words felt inadequate.

As Mom and I held Dad’s hands in the ER the previous week, I’d wondered how much more time we would have with him. Three hours later, he was sitting up in bed, looking much better. “Can I go home now?” he asked, after finishing his dinner.

My dad is tough. He didn’t go home that night, but he did days later. I was able to stay with him and Mom for five more days. On the morning of my departure, we went out for breakfast. I asked Dad if I could take his picture, this post rolling around inside my head.

Dan Antonietti. My dad. My hero.
Dan Antonietti. My dad. My hero.

Thank you for your service, Dad. I love you.

Special thanks to Lima Company Memorial for the first three pictures.

The International Choral Festival

The International Choral Festival marked its debut in 1987. That year was memorable on two accounts; it was also the year I became a mother. Following the success of the first Festival, a second followed three years later. So, too, did the arrival of our second son.

Though anticipating the birth of our first child during the inaugural Festival and being sleep deprived during the second, it was welcome respite to listen to choirs in various locations around Missoula. Since then, we have enjoyed the diversity of the choirs and their music in this triennial event.

The Ninth International Choral Festival was held July 17-20. For the first time, Rich and I served as hosts. We didn’t request a specific age group, sex, or country on our volunteer application. Instead, the thrill of the unknown we felt while awaiting the births of our children was magnified fourfold. Will our guests be males or females? Adults or youth? Where will they be from? Will they speak English?

We learned the answers to our first three questions days before the Festival began. We’d be hosting three young women from Taiwan’s Formosa Singers.

Formosa Singers at Southgate Mall
Formosa Singers at Southgate Mall

Our fourth question was answered when we met Lin Ying-Jyun, Fan Chih-Jung, and Li Szn Fang—AKA Amy, Tiffany, and Rainbow Amy—at Missoula Children’s Theater. Yes.

Hosting Tiffany, Amy, and Rainbow was a treat beyond measure. Sprinkled between rehearsals and concerts, we prepared and shared meals, sang, laughed, and enjoyed learning about their culture while sharing some of our own.

Rainbow, Karen, Amy and Tiffany at UM
Rainbow, Karen, Amy and Tiffany at UM

We reveled in seeing Missoula’s beauty through the eyes of our guests…

Tiffany, Amy and Rainbow at Greenough Park
Tiffany, Amy and Rainbow at Greenough Park
Amy, Susan, Rainbow and Tiffany at Farmer's Market
Amy, Susan, Rainbow and Tiffany at Farmer’s Market

…and at times we were guests, both at Festival events and at a fellow host family’s home for an evening filled with food and drink, laughter and song.

The sing-off winners! Cody, Bob, David, Tung Tung, Meko, Hsin-Hsin, Tiffany, Rainbow, Amy and Tyrone
The sing-off winners! Cody, Bob, David, Tung Tung, Meko, Hsin-Hsin, Tiffany, Rainbow, Amy and Tyron

In addition, the Formosa Singers prepared a luncheon for their host families, introducing us to some tasty Taiwanese dishes and affording us an opportunity to visit with other choir members and hosts.

Rainbow and Dai Rong serving spicy tofu and rice
Rainbow and Dai Rong serving spicy tofu and rice

The final day of the Festival fell on my birthday. There were so many moments of sweetness throughout the day, highlighted by the card the girls made for me with its inscription, Dear Mom.

A special birthday card
A special birthday card
Ju, Amy, Sunny, Alice, Tiffany and Rainbow at the After-Festival Party
Ju, Amy, Sunny, Alice, Tiffany and Rainbow at the After-Festival Party

“When are you coming to Taiwan?” our girls asked, more than once during our time together.

“Maybe in 2014.”

That hope lessened our sadness—somewhat—as we shared tearful goodbyes when our days together ended much too quickly.

The connectedness of our world was affirmed that day, though. As our girls left Missoula, our son Colin spent four hours in Taiwan enroute to Thailand. And according to a recent article in the Missoula Independent, Whistling Andy Distillery in Bigfork is going to be selling spirits in Taiwan.

If Rich and I are fortunate enough to visit our Taiwanese daughters someday, perhaps one of our toasts will be with a Made in Montana spirit. Full circle, indeed.