Brief conversations with heroes …

wwii2

I suspect that veterans don’t buy these hats for themselves but that their kids or grand kids do.

When ever I see a veteran wearing something that indicates they served our country I shake their hand and thank them for what they did.  The other day at Shaw’s market  (yes I do go grocery shopping once in a great while) I came across a man wearing a hat similar to the one in the picture.  I went up to him, shook his hand, thanked him for his service and said that he didn’t look old enough to serve in World War II.  He replied that he was 89 years old and served in Patton’s Third Army.  I asked … you must have a lot of stories to tell … and he said … yes I do …and I said … have you ever told them … the answer was … no … and he walked away.

He will die, like many others before him, with a heavy heart and soul … he will die a hero … a hero of our greatest generation.

korean vetsI know only one Korean War veteran and we had a chat about a number of subjects they other day.  I have never heard him talk about Korea until this day.  We were talking about visiting Normandy and the American Cemetery… the 32 sets of brothers buried there and the Army Rangers climbing Pointe du Hoc.

army rangers… the resulting casualties and the time it took the Rangers that made it to the top alive.  (15 minutes).

… when out of the blue he said “We (250+) were on the front lines for over 125 days with no breaks, little sleep, and cold rations and those alive came back to the base in two small trucks.”

It took me a few seconds to digest what I just heard.  I thought about asking for more details but just couldn’t because  I knew he wasn’t going to say any more.

That was the end of our conversation.

I have written about my draft day into the Marine Corps and of my two friends drafted the same day.  One was killed in Vietnam and the other is just now sharing brief stories of his horrific experiences.

wallWe are a country of heroes … they live near us, they work with us, some are family and others are friends.

I must of missed the news of one of our heroes’ recent passing.  Louis Zamperini, the Olympic runner and World War II officer who survived a horrific plane crash, a seven-week journey across the Pacific in a raft, near starvation and unspeakable torture in Japanese POW camps.

He died  at the age of 97. The cause of death was pneumonia, his family said in a statement from Universal Pictures, which is making a film adaptation of “Unbroken,” Laura Hillenbrand’s bestselling chronicle about Zamperini’s life.  I strongly recommend that you read it.

unbrokenWe live in the greatest country on this good earth and it is all because of the men and women that have served our country in a manner reserved for true heroes.

 

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