A few years ago, a retired preacher from a nearby town was to hold our morning and evening services while our own preacher left for a family gathering on Memorial Day weekend. The Warden, known for her hospitality, invited this elderly preacher and his wife to dinner and to spend the afternoon with us while awaiting his second service.
After dinner, he and I moved to the recliners of the living room while his wife and the Warden cleared the table. Because of the great age difference, we were having somewhat of a difficult time with conversation topics, so I flipped on the History Channel and turned the volume down real low. I was previously aware that the History Channel was going to air a Memorial Day Special on WWII all afternoon and I had planned on watching it. I thought perhaps it might also be a conversation starter for us ..... I had no idea just how correct that would be.
As his wife and the Warden joined us, the segment just starting on the History Channel was the landing at Normandy. I mentioned my admiration for those soldiers who climbed off the LCMs facing insurmountable odds.
"They expected a 70 percent causality rate," was his mater-of-fact reply, "or at least that is what they told us."
"Us?" I repeated as I turned the volume completely down.
"I landed with the second wave at Utah."
He seemed willing to talk so I turned off the TV and listened all afternoon to his first hand account of the invasion of Normandy, the liberation of France and ultimately Europe. He told of his part in the Battle of the Bulge as a foot soldier under Patton. With tears forming in his eyes, some of the carnage of two concentration camps in Austria. The afternoon was over much to soon and my history lesson ended. As we got up to leave, his wife of well over 50 years stated she had heard more that afternoon of his WWII experience than in all the 50 plus years of their marriage combined.
"He just never talks about it." she explained.
I have noticed that too, most veterans know we ... those of us who have never served in that manner .... won't completely understand.
And that is what this short blog is about ... an attempt to thank those "common people" who has kept this nation free ... the school bus driver who fought at Anzio ... the school teacher who as a marine landed on islands in the south Pacific ... the banker who flew spotter planes in Viet Nam ..... the college professor who fought in Korea ... the farmer who as a medic rode helicopters under fire into the rice paddies of Viet Nam to retrieve wounded soldiers ..... the rancher who laughs as he recounts some funny happening in the jungles, then cries when he recalls a buddy's name ... the list goes on from history ... and the list continues to grow with Iraqi Freedom.
Again, I thank you for your service.