Sunday, September 21, 2008

Gus Athanas 1917-2008

Arlington National Cemetery, Washington D.C.

On September 18, 2008, my father, Gus Athanas, was laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery. It was a beautiful, sunny day. Peaceful and awe-inspiring in a way only Arlington can provide. As a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corp., my father had earned the right to have an Honor Guard military ceremony. With the solemn playing of taps, a 3-volley gun salute, and the presentation of the American flag to my sister, it was a moving tribute to the life and dignity of my father.

Gus Athanas, World War II, Philippines

At 91, he had lived a full, rich life. He was a child of Greek immigrants who came over with the clothes on their backs and a handful of coins sewn into my grandmother's skirt. From those humble beginnings, Gus Athanas was the embodiment of Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation".

My grandparents, Uncle Tommy, and his younger brother, Gus

Gus and his brother, Tommy

The Athanas Boys, Tommy and Gus

He fought for his country in World War II in the bloody battles of the Philippines, came home and married his sweetheart, got a Masters degree and raised a family. He was well-travelled, respected in his work in the oil fields and management, and made time to have fun with his family.

Gus and Vicki

Me, Elaine, Gus and Vicki

After my mother passed away in 1987, my father met Ann on one of his travels and extended his family.

Gus and Ann

Until the day he died, people who met him always remarked at what a gentleman he was. Polite and respectful, quick-witted and commanding, he made friends easily and got the job done.

Julienne and Gus

I was lucky to have been adopted by Gus and Vicki and will cherish my time spent with them. They are now together again at Arlington. May they rest in peace.

My father and I

Thanks for everything, Dad. All of it. You were a helluva guy, my father, and my best friend.



Blogger vicjoy1945 said...

Hi Charlie,

So sorry to hear of the passing of your father. Please accept my condolences. My father was WWII veteran as well and its through him that I developed a deep sense of respect and silent awe for the men and women who served...then and now.

We haven't met but I suspect our paths will cross on the Wildclaw trail at some point soon.

Again, I know that fond memories of your father will be your comfort for years to come...


10:04 AM  
Blogger Charlie said...

Thanks for the kind words, Vic. Hope our paths cross soon.

10:11 AM  

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