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The Suburbanite
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  • King's View, Remember every day

  • My dad told me he remembered as a young boy seeing Civil War veterans march in Memorial Day parades in the small Ohio River town in which he lived.


    He said the men were in bad shape and could barely walk, but they nonetheless enjoyed so much being part of the festivities.

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  • My dad told me he remembered as a young boy seeing Civil War veterans march in Memorial Day parades in the small Ohio River town in which he lived.
    He said the men were in bad shape and could barely walk, but they nonetheless enjoyed so much being part of the festivities.
    I didn’t realize it then, but now I find it amazing – almost unfathomable – that I was talking to someone who had seen veterans of the Civil War in the flesh.
    What I also now find to be amazing – almost unfathomable – is that just like those Civil War veterans nearly a century ago, the vets from World War II are in bad shape and can barely walk. They are few and far between and getting fewer by the hour.
    With all due respect to the countless men and women from The Suburbanite area who have bravely served our country in various wars over the years – thank you from all of us for that – it is those vets from World War II that are especially on my mind this Memorial Day.
    My dad was one of those World War II vets, and when he told me the aforementioned story, those former servicemen were everywhere you looked. That wasn’t surprising, since the war had ended only about two decades or so before. They were young men, of course, when they were serving, and by that time, they had moved into their 40s and 50s. That’s not old at all and it now looks a lot younger every day.
    The dad across the street from where we lived, and the one just down the street, were among the vets. The dads of most of my friends, along with my uncles, were on the list, too.
    In addition, the father of another of my buddies had served for Germany in World War II. It was interesting – and, to be honest, a little intimidating, really – to walk into his house and see old, dark, black-and-white photos of men wearing German uniforms.
    He’s gone now, too. Maybe he’s sharing old war stories somewhere with my dad as we speak.
    And if so, then that discussion no doubt includes a lot of World War II vets. Betcha it’s lively as they sit around a table and go back and forth. I would love to be a fly on the wall and hear some of those tales.
    Come to think of it, though, I’ve already heard those stories. I heard them for years from my dad and the rest of those vets.
    But those voices are growing silent. Studies show that World War II vets are dying at a rate of about 1,000 a day now. It won’t take long before they’re extinct.
    Page 2 of 2 - And when they are, it will represent the end – a turning of the page, if you will – of probably the most important and impactful era in American history. It is an era the likes of which we will likely never see again.
    The men and women – both those who served in World War II, and also those who were in support roles back home – have been called The Greatest Generation, and with good reason. Many of them entered adulthood during another “Great” era, The Great Depression, which took away nearly every opportunity just as they were set to begin their careers.
    Their career pursuits were sidelined again – and they had to undergo more extreme hardships – with the onset of World War II.
    All of this wasn’t exactly what a high school or college graduate wants and expects when he receives his diploma. 
    But instead of complaining, which would have been easy and understandable, they did their duty and served their country with the same excellence they would later display. We won the war, after all, didn’t we?
    So all told, they had to wait a whole decade – or longer – to begin their true life’s work. You don’t get those years back.
    Deep down inside, then, you always had the hope they would be granted some extra days and months here on earth to make up for all that which was taken away. But even in the case of those who were so blessed, that additional time is quickly running out.
    With that being said, then, all of us who know World War II vets need to use this remaining time wisely and pick their brains for every fact, story and remembrances of their lives. Their histories are our histories. We are who we are and what we are due in large part to them, their sacrifices, their dedication and their never-say-die spirit.
    Try as we might, we’ll never be able to match their efforts, and when these people are no longer with us, it will be our responsibility to take their stories and ever so delicately and dutifully, pass them on to anybody who will listen.
    Just as their service was so important to us, our service will now be crucial to them and the prolonging of their historic legacies – not just on Memorial Day, but every day.