Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day...

Dottie is at work and as I catch up with Monaco and Indy from yesterday I can't help but think of the generations past. My Dad and his enlistment at 17 during WW2; his 2 older brothers, one in the Navy, the other in the Army Air Corps, shot down and hidden by a Belgian farmer to keep him from capture. My Mom's Dad enlisting in the SeaBees because the Navy said he was too old; her Mom's 3 brothers enlisting, one to never come home again, one to die of cancer when I was 2, the 3rd captured and held as a POW in Germany, starved from 180 down to 80 pounds and never in good health again. Grandma and her sisters building B-25 Mitchells in the plant I would later hire into after GM bought it from North American.

Dottie's Dad, unable to enlist because he'd had "yellow jaundice" and you coudln't enlist if you couldn't give blood, giving up the Green Mountains of Vermont to go to Boston and work in the shipyards building sub-chasers and mine-sweepers. Her Mom, Marion, a mechanical engineer hired by Pratt and Whitney to lay out assembly lines and staff them for their various plants.

Marion's Dad, a mechanical engineer as well, enlisting during WW1 and serving in France; I have an aircraft identification book of his from during the "Great War". My Dad's Dad, fresh out of telegraphy school for the railroad, enlisted and sent to join the Signal Corps as a telegrapher in the trenches where he was "gassed". He had heart and lung problems that plagued him for the next 46 years 'til they finally claimed him. His brother, Jesse who served in the Navy during WW1- I have a letter he wrote Grandpa from a VA home in 1962 telling him whatever he did he didn't want to end up there, that the screams at night were horrific. Some of their older siblings were in the Spanish-American War, though our family history gets a bit hazy as it spreads out.

Their grandfather, Hiram, dead of measles contracted during the "War Between the States" in Tennessee in 1864. In the Confederate Army...I know from my Mom's Dad that he had family on the other side of the lines then, though I don't have names to put with it.

On the wall in the house Dottie grew up in in Vermont is the Union Army discharge certificate for her Dad's namesake, his grandfather.

I'm sure for each I know of there are others...I am sure many of you have just as many in your families who have served; some forever!

Please, collect the stories you can, where you can and pass them on to those who will be here when we aren't?

From a Vietnam era sailor married to another Vietnam era sailor; the names, the stories, the sacrifices are too important to let fall away; we can't let this become just another holiday!

May this week be kind to each of you!



Riot Kitty said...

You are so right - I hate how it has turned into a 3-day weekend, holiday sale, drink-a-thon.

ryssee said...

We're so few generations as Americans on both sides in my family that we don't have much military history.
Neither side would have gotten here if it weren't for the sacrifices made by you and yours.
Thank you.

LucyTolliday said...

Its not memorial day here but I cant agree more with the sentiments.

CrackerLilo said...

Thank you to you and Dottie. Thank you to your families. Wow, that's amazing. It's very abstract to me in ways, because for a multitude of reasons, my relatives on both sides just don't have a lot of military experience. I think of Memorial Day as the start of summer, but I make sure I remember that there's more. You're the reason why. Thank you very much for posting your stories.

Dru Marland said...

I had to look up Memorial Day.. I like the original idea "...In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and comrades will, in their own way, arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit."
Over here we commemorate Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the Armistice in 1918. The associated parades can sometimes seem a little too martial for my taste. I prefer to remember things in my own way.

von Krankipantzen said...

Absolutely! Sometimes I do forget how close I am to some of these stories. We do Remembrance Day in November here in Canada and it is a big deal. Despite the somber occasion I love seeing everybody with their poppies on their lapels because it shows me that they are truly thinking about the day.

My great-grandfather was killed in combat in WWI. In London my grandparents and dad were bombed out in WWII and were fortunate to be unharmed. Their next door neighbours were all killed. My grandfather was too old to serve but was a train engineer all through the war. My cousin served in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

chrissie said...

I guess things are a little different between the way the USA and the British/Commonwealth handle these things.

Perhaps that's down to the fact that the US only recently went towards an all-volunteer military.

In the UK one of the prices to be paid for dropping conscription, fifty or so years ago, was that civilian society "moved away" from the military.

Only a tiny proportion of the civilian population now have any military experience and esentially, certainly up until recently, society and the military had become estranged from each other.

I think that was sad.

It seems to be changing now, what with the public reaction to the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I now hear and see support for the servicemen and women doing their jobs, and people are able to seperate that support from the fact that they don't approve of the wars.

ex- 24543962 Air-Trooper Christopher Anikey.