My dad—Jim Wallis Sr.—came to visit a few weeks ago. He’s 82 now but still does pretty well, traveling on his own to see his two grandsons in Washington, D.C. It was the typical yet wonderful grandpa week—going to see Luke’s second-grade class and Jack’s new preschool, watching Little League practice and the big Saturday game, checking out the new Sojourners office (he’s been to them all), and eating some special Mexican meals.
Having my father watch from the stands as I coached Luke’s baseball team felt nostalgic and warm when I recalled how he used to be my Little League baseball coach. I realized Luke wasn’t the only one who was glad to hear that he had done very well.
On Luke’s personal sharing day at school (all the kids have one), he brought his grandpa to “share.” When Luke told his classmates that his grandpa had been in the Navy during World War II, one kid asked who won the war. When they heard that we did, the class started cheering. (And what was the score?) Of course, at this age, they have almost no idea of what war really is.
Later in the week, I took the day off and we went to the World War II Memorial, now about two years old. It is the only major national memorial or monument in Washington, D.C, that my father hadn’t seen. And since I hadn’t yet visited it, we were both curious as to what the enormous project on the Mall would be like.
We thought the memorial was nice but not overly impressive. He liked seeing the names of all the Pacific islands he remembered as the junior engineering officer on a destroyer-minesweeper. His ship had been scheduled for the invasion of Japan, and high casualty rates were expected. Like many others, my father believed that the atomic bomb saved his life and made our family possible. His new bride, waiting at home, might otherwise have become a young widow.