November 10, 2014

Veterans Day 2014

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]Old Soldiers

My first true realization of the sacrifices and experiences of what would become known as The Greatest Generation came to me in the 8th grade when my history teacher sent us home for a long weekend with a homework assignment: Interview a World War II Veteran.

It was 1972. Every 8th grader knew a WWII veteran. In many cases it was a parent. Others, an aunt or uncle. The man I reached out to my friend Pete’s dad.

Pete’s dad was quiet. He didn’t talk much about the war (at least not to his son’s friends who played street hockey in front of his house). But for some reason, he was willing to help me with my school assignment and tell me about the war.

Pete’s dad served in the European theater. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, the turning point of the war where about 19,000 US soldiers lost their lives fighting in the Ardennes forest. Pete’s dad told me about the fear of going into battle. And the duty to do so. He told me about the frigid cold weather they faced in December of 1944.  And he told me about losing friends to enemy fire: “One minute you’re talking to your buddy. The next minute, he’s gone,” he said to me.

Pete’s dad, in that interview for that 8th homework assignment, helped me to understand and appreciate the sacrifice of the Greatest Generation, and the meaning of military service. 

He served with honor, survived the war, and returned home to raise a family and live his life. Just as so many others did. Like my friend Fran’s dad, who enlisted in the Navy in High School and fought in the South Pacific. Or my friend Connie’s dad, who landed at Omaha Beach (the day after D-Day), fought his way across Europe and helped liberate a concentration camp.

According to the National WWII Museum, approximately 555 WWII Veterans pass away every day. With them, their stories and memories. So it was an incredibly moving experience to be there when a group of them were brought to the WWII Memorial in DC a couple of weeks ago. They were greeted with applause, handshakes and tears. It was an honor to meet and photograph even a few of them.

Happy Veterans’ Day to all who chose to wear the uniform. My respect for you runs deep.

[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]WWII Veteran at the WWII Memorial, Washington DC, Honor Flights[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]Honor Flights, WWII Veteran at WWII Memorial[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]Irene Blessing, Nurse, WWII[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]Honor Flights, WWII Veteran at WWII Memorial[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″]Honor Flights, WWII Veteran at WWII Memorial[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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