Memorial Day: Make them known to your children, and your children’s children

posted at 3:00 pm on May 30, 2010 by Slublog

Although I never got him to talk about it, I’m sure my grandfather never wanted to go to war.

The year he was born, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, ending World War I. In the United States, the 18th Amendment took effect, beginning America’s experiment with Prohibition. Both of these events and their consequences would play a role in my grandfather’s life. The Treaty of Versailles ensured a future conflict with Germany. That war, and the substance that led to the 18th Amendment and its repeal, would lead to a struggle of a very different kind in the life of a man I would someday call ‘Grampy.’

In 1941, my grandfather was a musician who was wooing the woman I would someday call “Grammy.” He was the “quiet man of music” perfectly described in Dan Fogelberg’s “Leader of the Band.” Unfortunately, I do not know how he got my grandmother to marry him or any details of their courtship. All I know is that on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. At the end of that month, the young couple that I would come to know as my grandparents got married, and my grandfather was sent to fight in a war that he would survive, but never really talk about. After the war, he returned to the US and fathered one of my uncles, my aunt, and the man who would become my father. The Baby Boom generation was born of a nationwide collective desire to overcome the death and destruction of World War II. Those who saw friends fall in battle seemed compelled to create new life as a way of dealing with the horrors they endured. Although they had won a war, world conflict did not end. My grandfather’s youngest son, my father, would go on to serve his country in the Navy during America’s long Cold War against the Soviet Union.

When I was a child, I knew my grandfather had served in WWII. What I didn’t know was what he did in that war. The only stories he was willing to tell were those he found either funny or unassuming. I learned that during the war, my grandfather served as an artillery spotter. One day, in that role, he was looking at an intersection and watching the German army move through it. On that day, he told the artillery to fire for effect. They did, and the shots hit right on target. At this point in the story, he would chuckle and say that he and his fellow solider radioed the artillery to keep on doing what they were doing.

Not all of his stories were as light.

On December 16, 1944, the German army launched an attack that led to what would eventually be known as the Battle of the Bulge. My grandfather was there. The only thing he ever said about the German offensive was that at one point, “things got a little busy for awhile.” To this day, I do not know whether my grandfather killed other men in battle, but given his reluctance to talk about it, I suspect he did. I never asked him about it, but if I had, I doubt he would have answered my questions.

My grandfather survived the war, returned to the United States and grew his family. He also, unfortunately, grew dependent on the bottle. I don’t know whether his WWII experiences led him to that battle, or whether it preceded the war, but I do know his struggles with alcoholism lasted decades. Ultimately, though, he won that war. His victory allowed him to connect with the children of his children. My memories of him are of a gentle man with a strong hug who liked ice cream with peanut butter and watching the lake on his camp in northern Maine, listening to the loons cry and enjoying the peace and quiet. As a child, I used to enjoy just sitting with him in silence while at the same time wondering why he stared at the water so long. Now, I understand, and wish I had been able to really talk about what he was thinking as he looked at the water. Was he seeking peace? Redemption? Forgiveness?

I will never know.

In February of 1994, my grandfather died. I was 21 years old. Even though I have good memories of him and the many times we spent together, I still feel as though I never really knew him, and I regret to this day not taking the time to talk to him in detail about the years he spent serving his country during the largest conflict in which our country has ever been engaged.

All I know is that I miss him.

This Memorial Day weekend, I urge all of you who have relatives that served in World War II, or Korea, or Vietnam to talk to your loved ones about their experiences in those wars. Learn how they served their country, and thank them for that service. After all, they have earned the opportunity to tell their stories. Make Memorial Day truly meaningful by taking time to listen to those who fought to preserve your freedom.

You will not regret it.

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“Make Memorial Day truly meaningful by taking time to listen to those who fought to preserve your freedom.”

Thank you, Slublog…

… I will.

But first I have to clean up all this dust on my computer…

… it has caused my eyes to water for some reason.

Seven Percent Solution on May 30, 2010 at 3:12 PM

A Memorial Day photoshop.

Remember.

BKeyser on May 30, 2010 at 3:19 PM

It was my father’s service in WW2 and the loss of my cousin in Vietnam that caused me to join the USMC and serve in Vietnam. Not a day goes by I don’t think of them…. nor will I ever forget. It was my honor to have worn the uniform of a Marine . It was for them, to be honest. Blessings to all on this Memorial Day. Thank you to all who served, are serving and will serve. Of course, eternal comfort and peace to those gone having fought nobly for a country that is quickly becoming undeserving of such men and women.

MNDavenotPC on May 30, 2010 at 3:20 PM

Thanks for the SLUBLOG. My father served our great nation for 27 years. He joined the Army-Aircorps and was in an artillary unit during WWII. He went on to fight in Korea and Vietnam until he retired.

When my father passed away last May I went through all of his service records and among his achievements was a WWII victory medal, WWII occupation medal, several Oak Leaf clusters, and service longevity award among others. I was very proud of my father’s service to our nation and miss him very much, so this posting is dedicated to my father and all of those that have and continue to serve.

To all of those that have served, currently serve, or have fallen I salute you with great admiration, respect, and gratitude!

All gave some, some gave all…

Liberty or Death on May 30, 2010 at 3:30 PM

Make Memorial Day truly meaningful by taking time to listen to those who fought to preserve your freedom.

…and our freedom to be foolish.

Watching the “Powerplayer of the Week” on Fox’s Sunday show was a tear-streaming event. If anyone has video, please post.

Schadenfreude on May 30, 2010 at 3:37 PM

I don’t know whether his WWII experiences led him to that battle, or whether it preceded the war, but I do know his struggles with alcoholism lasted decades.

The same with my father, his battle with the bottle lasted until the end of his life and I’m certain the wars he fought in were the main reasons although just like your grandfather he didn’t talk much about it.

My father did confide in me once that when he was in WWII he quickly stopped making friends because he emotionally couldn’t take losing them over and over again. This would explain his being emotionally closed and his drinking.

While his drinking over the years caused many emotional scars within our family (some scars that took many years to forgive) I always reminded myself what he had been through in order to cope and keep it in perspective. While it doesn’t excuse some of the things he did when drinking it is understandable considering the part his war experiences played.

As the saying goes, “war is hell” and unless you have actually experienced war and the demons it manifests then you really can’t fully fathom the depths of its darkness and it is for this reason that I was able to move beyond and forgive my father for his drunken transgresstions and the demons he was battling.

Regardless I am very proud of my father and the sacrifices he made, he did the best he could and I told him so on his death bed, something that gave both me nad my father peace before he died.

Liberty or Death on May 30, 2010 at 4:01 PM

my father-in-law was in the Philippines. He didn’t talk about it much to his children because he was busy being good provider & father. what he did mention is that since he didn’t smoke, he was able to trade his cigarette rations for more ice cream.

he was scheduled & prepared to be part of the US invasion of Japan.

he was a member of his local VFW (Farmville VA) for over 60 years.

kelley in virginia on May 30, 2010 at 4:23 PM

Thank you, Slu.

hillbillyjim on May 30, 2010 at 4:25 PM

I regret to this day not taking the time to talk to him in detail about the years he spent serving his country during the largest conflict in which our country has ever been engaged.

I did try to talk to my wife’s grandfather (WWI) and father (WWII) about how they served. Neither would give any details. My guess is that your Grandfather would have been the same. The one thing I do know about my father-in-law (now deceased) was that he suffered extreme guilt for being the only survivor of his unit during the war in the pacific.

chemman on May 30, 2010 at 4:29 PM

Well said Slublog:

Several of my uncles were in WWII. Came home, raised families. Didn’t talk about the war at all. Except to each other from time to time over beers on the back porch (tiny ears hear a lot).

One Uncle was in the engineers and landed on Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944. Only thing Mom ever said was ‘He was DIFFERENT when he got home’. Today they call it PTSD. He never married. Never saw him angry. Never saw him with friends. Just aloof. Didn’t want to get close to anyone.

Years later when I came home from Vietnam, he dropped by a couple of days later. Asked if I wanted to go to a ballgame. We didn’t talk much, but somewhere around the third inning he turned to me and said “Anything YOU want to talk about?” Having grown up with warriors (my Uncles), I said “No”. He left it at that.

He died in 1997, we never did ‘talk’.

GarandFan on May 30, 2010 at 4:29 PM

My mother was an Army nurse in the Pacific theatre during WWII, in Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines.

She talked about a few of some of the few lighter things that happened (boyfriends in Australia showing off by flying under the Sydney Bridge, making fudge and soup in the helmets that also doubled as washbasins, and how they passed the time by planning their first day back in the US – a drink at the bar at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in SanFran).

Years later, when it came time to have the family dog put to sleep, my father could not bring himself to take her to the vet. My mother said she’d go with him and take the dog in herself and stay with her. “After all, I sat by quite a few deathbeds in my time,” she said.

I never did ask her about that. I guessed she’d talk about it if she wanted, and she never did.

Wethal on May 30, 2010 at 4:57 PM

“And your children’s children’s children’s children.”

“All right, don’t belabor the point.”

(Okay, the correct quote was father’s father’s, etc.)

Daggett on May 30, 2010 at 4:58 PM

Thank you, Uncle Conrad (buried in the cemetery in Normandy), and Uncle Benjamin (buried in the cemetery in Manila), whom I never knew, and to friends Nick, Pat, Daryl, Jim, and especially Karl.

exhelodrvr on May 30, 2010 at 4:59 PM

The Warrior Song

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTs6a0ORdQU

canopfor on May 30, 2010 at 5:05 PM

Liberty or Death on May 30, 2010 at 4:01 PM

GarandFan on May 30, 2010 at 4:29 PM

chemman on May 30, 2010 at 4:29 PM

MNDavenotPC on May 30, 2010 at 3:20 PM

I never did ask her about that. I guessed she’d talk about it if she wanted, and she never did.

Wethal on May 30, 2010 at 4:57 PM

…and to anyone I haven’t listed there, I completely understand and shared in your experiences, change the names and wars and other details, the overall experiences are shared.

I shed tears on Memorial Day every year when I stop and consider the gravity of just what our “forefathers/forebearers” have experienced, and yet kept so stoically private — I always wonder, in my own family’s case, if that was to continue to protect and defend the rest of us, after their orders were completed, yet still in service.

All I know is that the lives lived and lost by those in service and afterward are irreplaceable, memorable, more worthy than I could ever describe.

Lourdes on May 30, 2010 at 5:17 PM

Executive Mansion

Washington, D.C.

November 21, 1864

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

Abraham Lincoln

Let us never forget.

BacaDog on May 30, 2010 at 5:21 PM

Battle of the Bulge. My grandfather was there.
===============================================

Just WOW SLUBLOG,I remember seeing that movie,at a young age but after watching documantries it was kaos for awhile.

My grandfather was heading over to Europe,and half way there
he needed stomach surgery,he never did see combat,and some
where along the line he met his wife from England,and my
grandmothers sister from England met and married a US Air
men and settled in Utah!

I as well remember fond memories,at camp,on the lake with
my grandfather!

But your grandfather went to h*ll and back,thank-you so
much for sharing,as I as well miss my grandfather very
much so,thank-you:)

canopfor on May 30, 2010 at 5:29 PM

THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

http://www.arlingtoncemetery.org/

canopfor on May 30, 2010 at 5:32 PM

Dad passed when I was 14. He had a scar that went most of the way across his chest. I can remember as a little kid running my hand a long it’s length when he would sit with his shirt off. He said he got it from a bayonet in hand-to-hand combat.
-
We use to have a footlocker of his war things; loads of pacific island trinkets and photos, some ammo casings, his medals and bars, patches and some solder training books. There was also a leather pouch with his docs in it. Much of that stuff got lost over the years due to too many moves and too many kids (me included) taking stuff out to show off to people.
-
My sister has the docs now because… well she is the most consistently responsible sib in our family. Having looked at those a few years back it seemed like he kept everything in order until he went from Panama to Hawaii… Then there were few if any docs. I guess the battle had little use for paperwork back then, or he was too busy to keep up.
-
Mom is the youngest of 11, dad was one of 13… BIG families. All 3 boys from mom’s side served in WWII. They all made it home in one piece. One even brought home a wife from France. I know that one of dad’s brothers, uncle Bob, served in Europe. Not sure about the rest as they scattered about the country long ago.
-
A tip of the hat to those who kept the world safe from the dictators of the mid-twentieth century. God love them all.
-

RalphyBoy on May 30, 2010 at 6:11 PM

During my 12 month tour (actually 366 days), more than half the pilots with whom I flew my 100+ missions were Reservists, like me, and Air Guardsmen. The majority of members of the Guard and Reserves are former Active Duty military. Chances are good that the next time you fly on a commercial airliner, the pilots will be former military and perhaps members of the National Guard or Reserves. I often wondered how many names on the Vietnam Memorial Wall are of National Guardsmen and Reservists. One hundred and forty Medal of Honor recipients were in the National Guard. Six thousand seventy-seven members of the National Guard or Reserves died in Vietnam.

The Vietnam War Memorial was dedicated NOVEMBER 13, 1982, honoring 58,178 American troops who died.

U.S. forces inflicted over a million enemy fatalities.

On October 12, 1967, during Operation Medina, Marine Sergeant George Hutchings of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Division, had a dozen men killed around him when ambushed by North Vietnamese in the Hai Lang jungle.

Months later, after numerous battles, George was shot three times, bayoneted and left for dead.

He survived and was later awarded the Purple Heart.

Of the Vietnam Memorial, George Hutchings said:

“On that wall is the name of Corporal Quinton Bice, who was hit in the chest with a rocket running a patrol in my place.

A Christian, he had shared the Gospel with me, but I didn’t understand it till he gave his life in my place.”

“QUOC-GIA
LAO-TUONG”
(VIETNAM HONORS YOU)

“Anh-Du’ng Boi-Tinh
Vo’i Duong-Lie’u”
(You have earned the Legion of Honor Medal in recognition of work well done through your sacrifice and by placing yourself in Harm’s Way on our behalf.)

opaobie on May 30, 2010 at 6:37 PM

Some veterans that need to be remembered today.

John Penman. On patrol, the point element thought they saw something to their front. John went up to check it out. NVA jumped up and shot him.

Tommy Tucker. On Nui Coto, middle of a quiet night, single lucky mortar round hits inside the perimeter. Too close to Tom.

Errol Farrar. On Nui Ta Bec. We kind of stalled out but they’re still up there. Farrar takes over the M-60 and does a pretty good job with it. Stayed too long in one spot. Sniper got him.

Will Koehler. Just walking down the trail. Quiet, branches snap, single shot. Sniper.

Bruce Foote. There’s some activity up on the border, Bruce and his company go in in slicks in the dark. Slicks leave, NVA jumps up, all hell breaks loose. Next day we find him, hands tied, shot in the head.

We miss you guys. You are the heroes.

lonesomecharlie on May 30, 2010 at 7:14 PM

A tribute to our fallen. May they never be forgotten

Don’t You Remember Us?

LewWaters on May 30, 2010 at 9:47 PM

In loving memory of my Dad and personal hero who passed away in 1995 at age 73. He served two years in Africa, Sicily and Italy. Never talked about his experiences other than walking from the boot to the top of Italy. Based on his records and medals we now understand he was a real hero. Received the Silver Star for bravery by singly entering and destroying enemy machine gun nests while leading a night patrol. Of course there were enemy casualties. Awarded a Purple Heart for injuries that left him partially disabled for the remainder of his life. We found that he was to be awarded a second Purple Heart but he declined because he did not want his parents finding out he had been injured again. I know now that he thought of his experiences but never discussed with his family. At the end of his life his one concern voiced to my Mom was how was God going to judge him because he had taken human life. I say when he stood before God, God said welcome home brave soldier, loving son, husband, father and grandfather, job well done, life well lived.

momoftxmomof3 on May 30, 2010 at 9:58 PM

Another hero to be remembered is Corporal Irving Strobing, a 22-year-old signal corpsman from Barbey Street in Brooklyn and an East New York tailor’s son. As a Radio Operator on Corregidor, his final radio transmissions spoke for General Jonathan M. Wainwright and a few thousand exhausted American and Filipino soldiers who had retreated down the Bataan peninsula to make a last stand at the fortified island rock known as Fortress Corregidor at the mouth of Manila Bay. In the final minutes before their surrender under orders to an overwhelming Japanese force, his transmissions were received in Hawaii and relayed to higher headquarters.

For more than an hour before his radio went dead and Corporal Strobing and his colleagues were taken prisoner, he kept up the sporadic stream of telegraph transmissions that made him a national hero when the transcripts were read over the radio and reproduced in newspapers three weeks later.

Describing the horrors of the final assault, when the troops’ last line of resistance was to destroy their own weapons and other supplies to keep them out of enemy hands, Corporal Strobing punctuated his remarks with flashes of humor.

He died of cancer on July 8, 1997 at a veterans hospital in Durham, N.C. He was 77.

opaobie on May 30, 2010 at 10:01 PM

In the United States, the 18th Amendment took effect, beginning America’s experiment with Prohibition.

Well, thank God for that! Without it, we never would have known Joe Kennedy and his family.

GOD BLESS OUR MILITARY MEN & WOMEN!

And God bless the families of those who never returned.

listens2glenn on May 30, 2010 at 11:17 PM

To my Dad, whom I never knew:
He only saw me once, through the glass of the hospital maternity ward. My mother left me with the indelible image of a professional soldier tougher than I can ever dream of being, with his face pressed to the glass, tears streaming down his cheeks. The next day his orders took him away and the next month Pearl Harbor took him around the world. In April 1943, his plane crashed and he was gone.
To my Step-Dad, who taught me everything:
An Army Field Medic in France in 1944 and in Germany in 1945, he never could bring himself to utter the slightest word of it. He had seen and felt things that no words could communicate and the unspeakable pain of bringing up the memories was just too much.
At the end of it all, a terrible question waits to be asked; For what was all this horrific price paid? What was so incalculably priceless that made this horror worth the bargain? What did they see that was worth everything to save and pass on to us?
Was it Social Security or Medicare? ObamaCare? Veterans benefits? If you can bring yourself to believe that, then you have the soul of a insect. No, it was freedom!
Freedom is the ideal that sets America apart from any other country on Earth. We are the only country in all human history founded on an idea, and we stand now on the precipice of abandoning that idea for the siren song of safety.
On this Memorial Day weekend, we are at the crossroads of our history, about to decide whether or not to sell the legacy that they fought and suffered and died to pass on to us, for the price of having our bills paid with someone else’s money.
Good Luck America, and may God forgive us all.

Lew on May 30, 2010 at 11:19 PM

I had a wonderful experience this weekend, I had the honor of meeting ans speaking with Stuart Hedley, president of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. An amazing fellow, sharp as a tack with a spring in his step. That day of infamy may as well of been yesterday.
This was a very timely event, as a resident of our Veterans home and Stuarts close passed away last week, Lt. John Finn, USN retired. Lt. Finn was awarded the Medal Of Honor for actions in Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, and was our Nations oldest honoree.

JusDreamin on May 30, 2010 at 11:22 PM

God Bless our Troops!

It humbles me when I consider the great and sometimes “ultimate sacrifice” they provide for us all

…and they remind me that freedom is not free.

Teebone3 on May 31, 2010 at 6:12 AM

My cousin Robert, Viet Nam, 1968. I wish I could remember you, Bob, but I was just too young. I still love you.

However horrible the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon to offer and to give his life for his country is the noblest development of mankind. ~Gen. Douglas MacArthur

DrMagnolias on May 31, 2010 at 7:02 AM

Lew on May 30, 2010 at 11:19 PM

Beautifully said.

DrMagnolias on May 31, 2010 at 7:03 AM

In memory of Chris, Josh and their crew. All friends, all gone too soon.

Flipper 75

hawkdriver on May 31, 2010 at 7:12 AM

In memory of Chris, Josh and their crew. All friends, all gone too soon.

Flipper 75

hawkdriver on May 31, 2010 at 7:12 AM

hawkdriver:That is a superb musical piece Hawk,
thanks,heres one right back at ya!:)
====================================================

The Warrior Song

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTs6a0ORdQU

canopfor on May 31, 2010 at 8:35 AM

Thanks canopfor and Happy Memorial Day to ya!

hawkdriver on May 31, 2010 at 9:23 AM

Thanks, Slublog. And thanks to your Granddad.

SarahW on May 31, 2010 at 11:07 AM

Lew on May 30, 2010 at 11:19 PM

Yes, beautifully said.

Jaynie59 on May 31, 2010 at 2:40 PM

momoftxmomof3 on May 30, 2010 at 9:58 PM

Pick up Rick Atkinson’s book – “The Day of Battle, Sicily & Italy, 1943-44″ and you will find your father and his brave compatriots fighting a bloody, poorly designed march to Rome.

My father was in Italy during this time, but far from the front in the USAF. I finally recorded a couple of his innocuous stories about his time there. I need to get a few more recorded before he joins the other vets. His 20 grandchildren will appreciate hearing the stories in his own words.

mdenis39 on May 31, 2010 at 10:16 PM