During 8 of my first 12 years of life, the United States was at war. I was born just before the U. S. entered WWII and by the time I was 13 the Korean truce had been signed. During that time I had 4 uncles and 4 cousins over 21 and under 40; all 8 were in the military, and all came back.
- Uncle Fritz, a Swedish immigrant served in the U. S. Army in WWI
- Uncle Denny was an infantryman in the U. S. Army, landed at Normandy, fought at the Battle of the Bulge at age 38; he would sometimes talk about the bitter cold and the howl of the German 88mm shells.
- Uncle Bill was in the Navy in the South Pacific during WWII
- Uncle Russ was a Navy gunner on an oil tanker, was torpedoed in the South Pacific, survived 14 days on a life raft, and was rescued
- one cousin was in the Coast Guard during WWII
- another cousin was in the Merchant Marine taking cargo back and forth across the North Atlantic during WWII
- a third cousin was in Korea during the Korean War
- and a fourth was also in Korea
In addition, my Aunt Julia was in the Marine Corps (play the video) stationed in San Diego during the entire 2nd World War.
There was a time in American history when every able-bodied man served; the duty fell to all.
From my relatives I learned that serving was a mix of boredom, terror, seasickness, hard work, extreme loss, revulsion, and homesickness.
Take some time to remember and honor your grandparents, uncles and aunts, parents, cousins, nephews and nieces, and all others who served in conflicts in the World Wars, in Korea, in Vietnam, in the Gulf Wars, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and those who were prepared to fight.
In Des Moines the local Memorial Day program will be
- May 25, 2009
- 11 am
- Vets Auditorium
photo by flickr by Elassar