Monday, May 30, 2011

Guest Post- They Fought For Me

Ed posted this as a note on Facebook today.  I thought it was great and wanted to share and maintain it here on my blog.

Kaye and I are a bit unusual among our peer group. Our parents were older than our friends parents. They were WWII era men and women who knew personally the great sacrifice of war. My mother's father was killed in action in Bari, Italy while serving as as the First Officer on a cargo ship that was loaded with Mustard Gas Bombs. The last of these horrible weapons was recently incinerated at a facility on the edge of the west desert, just 30 miles or so from our home in Utah. Kaye's father was a Scout with an Army Calvary Division. We know very little of his war time service. Like many of his generation, he would not allow himself to be defined by his military service. He was a great man. He was wounded during the war but rarely spoke of the pain those wounds caused. He was part of an Army unit that arrived first on the scene at one of the horrific death camps established to eliminate the Jews. He returned home, completed an education and spent a career with the Boy Scouts and then a second career as a Junior High School shop teacher. Many spoke during his funeral but none remembered him for his service to our country. Those who spoke of his life spoke of more current acts of service. He committed his entire life to doing good.

My father was a radio operator and spent most of his time during WWII stationed in Souix Falls, S.D. training other young men to do the same. He was stationed for a time on Tinian Island in the South Pacific. An island that would remain unknown but for one event that guaranteed it a place in written history. Like Kaye's dad, WWII was a distant memory and he didn't discuss it ever. I can't ever recall him telling even a single anecdote from his years of service. He returned from the war and settled down to become a businessman, friend, volunteer, and father. He was a Mason and a Shriner. Like Kaye's parents, my Mom and Dad spent many hours involved in numerous service organizations. My Father worked tirelessly to support the cause of Shriner's Hospitals and the other charities of the Masonic Lodge that he was a member of. When he died, it was his Masonic friends who came in a seemingly endless procession to express to my Mother the help he had been to them personally.

These men fought for honor, for duty and for me. Like most of my generation, the sights and sounds of war are the ones we see on television newscasts. I took Kaye's Dad to see Saving Private Ryan many years ago. He remarked as we were leaving that he had crossed the beach about 14 days after the invasion first began. It was total chaos he said. And while the movie captured some visual imagery that provoked long forgotten memories, he said it was the sounds and smells that he could never explain. No one could.

Today we remember them. They fought for us.


reb said...

Thank you - that was eloquently written

Joan said...

I saw his facebook post and was touched and glad that he honored Memorial Day this way. You had quality parents.