Monday, May 26, 2008

Two soldiers

I've been thinking about the two of them all weekend. I suppose it's the Memorial Day holiday that has focused my attention and memory.

Two soldiers who served in WWII.

One, my dad, served in the U. S. Army Air Corps prior to the creation of the U. S. Air Force as a separate branch of the U. S. Armed Forces. He served throughout his assignment in Lubbock, Texas at the Army Air Base there, working as an airplane mechanic. As was the case with many farmers, my dad was discharged so that he could return to the farm and join the war effort there. He never served overseas. I think he regretted that all of his adult life. This fact from his life may explain why I am alive.

The other, my father-in-law--Clyde Erwin, served in Europe after his basic training. He found himself caught up on the front lines during the historic Battle of the Bulge. He crossed Normandy beach six days after D-Day. He lost every man in two units as he fought his way across France and into Germany. He was blown off of a Jeep during one battle and nearly killed.

He told me on several occasions about Christmas Day 1944 when he and his fellows woke up buried in snow as they waited orders to continue forward toward what would be a German surrender. He spoke of the experience of liberating the concentration camps, of the smell of death and of the horrid condition of the people imprisoned in such inhumane places. He seldom spoke in great detail and he never accepted praise for his service. He always became emotional whenever he spoke of the war.

Both of these men are gone now. Both lived as men of peace, devoted to their families, their communities and the nation. Both were spiritual men of faith, integrity and honor. Both hated the notion of war. Both served as called on by their nation. Both were models in every way for me.

I miss them both, every day. Today I'm thankful for their lives, their service and their honorable devotion to their nation and to the values of our democracy and to freedom for everyone.



Anonymous said...

I appreciate you post so very much. One does not have to condone war to appreciate the sacrifice of so many like you father and father-in-law.

R Corum

Anonymous said...

Larry, you're one of the best writers we've got in our country on the topic of family, love and loss. Thanks for all that you do. You continue to inspire us all.

Craig James