Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Salute to our Veterans

I have to admit something, I've been sulking and I'm not proud of it. As Veterans Day approaches I have been reflecting on the Veterans in my family and I began to realize why I've been in a funky, sulking mood.
I'll begin with WWI, my paternal grandfather was barely a teenager when he was sent to France to fight the Germans. As a very young teen I'm sure he had no clue as to why he was there other then his adopted country sent him. Grandpa was born in Holland and brought to America as a very small boy. His mother was deceased making his two older sisters his duel mothers. I'm sure that was a thrill. They were poor and he saw the Army as a way to have a hot meal, clothes and a place to sleep. 

 France 1918 after years of battles

 American Troops Arrive on the French shore ... one of these could have been my grandfather ....
First American Action
May 28-29, 1918 - Troops of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division capture the village of Cantigny from the Germans and hold it. The American Expeditionary Force (AEF) is commanded by General John Pershing who is determined to maintain all-American fighting units, rather than parcel out American troops to the British and French armies. By now, 650,000 American soldiers have arrived in France, with the number growing by 10,000 per day.

Edward A. Pritts returned from the war somewhat a hero. He was awarded the Bronze Star by President Woodrow Wilson for being injured in battle. The certificate hung behind my grandparents bedroom door for 50 years. I never knew it was there until we moved them to California when grandpa was well into his 80's. He never spoke of the war, he wasn't bitter, he did his job and came home. He served his country, the place that gave his poor family hope and a future.

Fast forward to 1944, my father enlists in the Army and is sent to the Pacific Theater. He serves in the Philippines and sent to Japan to fight the Japanese. His infantry is there during the drop of the Atomic bomb and they are assigned the horrendous duty of "clean up" on Hiroshima.  My father came home traumatized by what he saw.

 Two photos of atomic bomb mushroom clouds, over two Japanese cities in 1945.
 He never spoke of the war and would NEVER watch a war movie. His suffered from malaria while in the Philippines and had long term problems from the fever his entire life. He was a Patriot with a capital P. He loved this country and was so proud to be an American. Every time we saw a man in uniform my dad would buy their dinners, drinks or simply hand them money. He knew they received little pay and he always respected what they were doing. My dad would be mortified at what our military has become, a mere shadow of itself. The respect our country once held in the world is diminishing before our very eyes, and no one seems to care .... 
My dad was one of the men from the "Greatest Generation." This country is in debt by trillions of dollars ... how will my grand children's generation ever pay this off? No wonder I've been in a funk ....
Today I feel blessed to have been raised by parents who respected this country and taught me to do the same. To our Veterans I say "Thank You" and to our men currently serving I say "God speed."

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