To All WHo Have Served
This Memorial Day I am remembering my father and a conversation I had with Tom K. My dad was a fireman in San Bernardino, California on December 7, 1941.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor there was fear of a Japanese attack on California. Men who were firemen on Dec. 7th were exempt from the draft. But, my father volunteered and was accepted to OCS.
I wanted a military career. I did High School ROTC. But, my knees gave me a 1 Y classification. That was it for me.
I recall a conversation Tom K. and I had. Tom was lamenting the number on men who would come into the VFW hall and pass themselves off as former military, as former Navy Seals, Marines, etc. Tom had no use for them. I understand, I have two good friends dying from Agent Orange. Real heroes. I do not understand people who engage in stolen valor. Tom had no use for them, no respect. I have no respect for them either.
When we lived in England and traveled on the continent Carol and I would be driving through France and see a sign that announced a U. S. military cemetery. Usually there was an arrow pointing to a turn off. We would stop and walk along the rows in remembrance and humility at these men who had bought our freedom. So many, so young.
One day we saw one of these signs. We turned off and found a very small cemetery from WWi. We walked along the rows. It seemed that all the men buried there had died within three or four days of each other. We guessed they all took part in a single battle. Eventually we sometimes stopped at British and French and German WWI cemeteries.
But, what I remember most was many years ago now. I drove out to the American Military cemetery over looking Omaha Beach. It was early in the morning. There was one other car in the parking lot. I looked around and noticed an elderly French couple walking slowly toward the parking lot. Their heads were bowed as they talked with each other.
There was almost a reverence about them. Then they stopped and started reading the sign at the entrance to the cemetery. At all the American military cemeteries there is a sigh that lists all the American military cemeteries. It was this sign they were checking out. Then the woman dropped her head and her husband guided her to their car.
What their story was? wWho they wee looking for I have no idea. But, I can tell you one thing – they had not forgotten America and our men,
It reminds me of a story I once read. Charles deGaulle was at a function talking about France first. He said something like: “I want all the American military out of France!!
When an American colonel said: “Those buried here too?”.
I’ve posted some of this before. But I don’t think is amiss to repeat some of it.
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