Day For A Memory

OfficerIvanChopoffAll it takes to make a blog entry is a little bit of focus. A theme to hang a few paragraphs on. It helps if the individual paragraphs are related to each other in some understandable way. Those are my thoughts as I compose a memory from my father, Ivan Chopoff.

Yesterday was Memorial Day. A holiday setup by fellow countrymen to commemorate the lengths to which one should go to preserve our rights. Though this brings many feelings to the forefront the main one it reminds me of is my papa telling me about his life in China. Grandpapa was a Russian Orthodox priest. He was a stern bible thumping man who was more generous with strangers than his own family. Papa was a prankster. It got him in a lot of trouble. He was belted and punished in a manner he says was more severe than the manner in which we were punished. Though I cannot imagine it was harder for him to be on his knees for what seemed hours on end but I do understand the example he followed.

Mind you I love my Papa and forgive him for what he had done to us with a misguided sort of love. Let me get back to his story and stop lamenting about my own.

At around 12 or 13 he had enough abuse and ran away from home by joining the army. This would be the Chinese army though I think all of them are extremely similar. He was trained to use a rifle. One day his troop was on top of a hill when they spotted the enemy below. He told me how he carefully sighted his gun at a boy not much older than himself and pulled the trigger. He was a good shot and saw a piece of the boys forehead detach itself from his skull and go flying backward over the now dead soldier’s head. Papa no more than a boy had just killed someone. He felt very bad, but that’s OK because he was just following orders and they were trying to kill him too.

I am sorry Papa that I do not have your eloquent words to vividly describe as you did to me so many years ago the thrill and excitement and the horror that was evident on you face as you told this tale to me. Nor have I done it justice by prefacing it with my experience of the violence and anger you held for what had happened to you in your own youth. No doubt I added my own color to your story which I will attempt to cleanup a bit when I reread and edit what I have recorded.

Thus Papa I bring to an end your tale from my day for a memory.