The kids will never know.
I grew up in a world of heroes. They were in my Sunday School class.
They were in my classrooms. They worked with my Dad. I went into their homes after school and watched television with their kids on Saturday mornings. We played ball together. They coached our little league teams.
Today’s kids think a basketball guy or a football guy is a hero.
They will never know.
I’m a child of the fifties. Baby Boomer. Today is Veteran’s Day. I’m thinking out loud.
My Dad was a Navy Seabee. Three of my four uncles served in the Army. In every family home, there was a photo of a young man in a uniform. The framed photos sat on the mantles, on the tables in the middle of the room. and next to Mama’s bed on the other side of the house.
In the backs of closets and locked away in the attic were footlockers full of a man of war’s memories.
Tal’s Dad was a tail gunner on a B-29. My next door neighbor was a Captain in Germany. The man who owned the laundry and lived behind us, he was in the infantry. His neighbor was on submarines. Dennis’ Dad was a Marine, He saw the flag raising at Iwo Jima.
My science teacher was a submarine captain, cruising the Pacific, sinking Japanese ships. My math teacher earned the Silver Star in France.
My history teacher, Donald Hemphill was at D-day. He taught us a lot about World War II but he never talked about D-Day. He told me “Mike, I just don’t talk about that day. It was too, too bad.”
The VFW halls and the American Legion was standing room only every week.
I joined the Lions Club. I ate lunch on Tuesdays with heroes. One flew tankers over North Vietnam, earned the Distinguished Service Cross, saving a F-4 fighter one day. Another parachuted into battle, not once but three times. Another flew cargo planes over the hump, into Burma. And, then another spent three years in England, oiling and greasing B-17’s, getting them ready to fly east every morning. The quiet man, who never had much to say. He had 30 missions as pilot in command, B-17.
I worked with James. He went ashore at Anzio Beach, fought his way up the boot of Italy until he got to France. George flew B-17’s and his brother repaired the bullet holes when they came back from Germany every night. My mentor, Mr. Reeves, he was a sheet metal mechanic on an aircraft carrier for three years. Told me he went all over the Pacific and never knew where he was. He had an ashtray made from a Kamikaze plane.
On Veterans Day, like today, and on Memorial Day, those men, those heroes, had a lot on their minds. They didn’t talk much.
They stood tall, at attention, and were loud and strong when we said the Pledge of Allegiance. They bowed their heads as we prayed thanked them for their service and sacrifices in defense of our country. Everyone of them said “Amen” when the prayer was over.
Yes, they are heroes the kids will never know.
Thank you, one and all.
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