Several weeks ago my husband and I watched the HBO series "The Pacific" and I have to tell you that I was almost moved to tears by it. Not just because of how horrible it must have been for the soldiers who fought in the Pacific, but because my Dad actually survived it.
You see, my Dad fought in the Pacific area and was at the battle of Iwo Jima. He joined the Navy in April of 1943 and served until December 1946. He was a Pharmacist's Mate assigned to the Marines. He was assigned to the 3rdBn, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division; 3rdBn, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division; and 1stBn, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division.
My Dad would never talk about the war with us - all he would say is that the Hollywood movies could never depict how horrendous it really was. I wonder if he'd say the same thing about the mini-series we just watched. It looked pretty horrible to me.
The only people he ever talked about the war with was my grandfather who served in WWI and those rare times when his brother, who served in the Army during WWII, and his brother-in-law, who served in the Air Force during WWII would visit.
My Dad loved Japan and always wanted to go back to visit. He brought a lot of stuff home with him from Japan. When I was in the 4th grade I wanted to do a show and tell with some of the stuff he had brought home and he agreed that I could take some of it. The teacher wanted to keep it on display so I left it in the classroom. To our dismay it was all stolen. My Dad, was really upset by this, but didn't blame me as I had no reason to think that anything would happen to it in the classroom.
I can't remember exactly what the items were that were stolen. But, I still have all of my Dad's papers from WWII, some of his war correspondence, and most of his pictures from boot camp forward. The wonderful thing about his pictures is that he wrote the names of his fellow servicemen on the back of the pictures. He was a "pack-rat" and saved everything. I guess I must take after him in that regard. I, too, save EVERYTHING!
Unfortuntely my Dad never got a chance to re-visit Japan. So, three years ago I thought that as a tribute to my DAD I would create a WWII blog for him. That way his grandchildren and their grandchildren can see who their Grandfather was and what he did for his country. Kind of a glimpse into his life while he was in the armed services.
Also, by including the names of his fellow servicemen and women maybe someone else will be able to see a picture of their father or grandfather in WWII. Plus, with the ability to crop and enlarge the old photo's we'll all finally be able to see what everyone really looked like back then.
Since there are a ton of pictures and other information that my Dad collected it's going to take me a long time to scan it all in. In the meantime I wanted to create a collage of sorts as a remembrance of his service to his country. So, I created the following shadowbox as a tribute to him and World War II.
I think my Dad would like my shadowbox. I know he'd like the blog idea.
Based on some of the genealogy research I've done many of my families ancestors have served in just about every war since the country began. Some in the Revolutionary War, some in the War of 1812, some in the Civil War, etc. My grandfather served in WWI and, I believe, my other Grandfather served as a merchant marine.
Now you might be wondering why I'm telling you this. Well, tomorrow is Memorial Day and, given that I love history, I thought I'd give you a little history of Memorial Day.
It was first observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of the Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize it was New York in 1873.
After World War I the holiday changed from a Civil War holiday to one honoring Americans who died fighting in any war. Back in 1967 Congress created Memorial Day as a time to remember those who have given their life in military service to the nation. It was originally called Decoration Day. Then in 1971, Congress decided Memorial Day would always be observed on the last Monday in May and created a 3-day weekend for all federal employees.
It has also become traditional in many cities and towns to place American flags on the graves of those killed during combat and on the tombs of the veterans of all wars and to fly the flag at half-staff from dawn until noon local time.
While Memorial Day has some how morphed into a 3-day weekend of family picnics and barbecues for the start of the summer we should NEVER forget what it's really about. Brave men and women who died in service to their country.
Luckily for our family my Dad and my two Uncles came home safe from WWII. Many families were not as fortunate. To those who have sacrificed their lives for us "thank you" just doesn't seem like enough to say. How do you thank someone for sacrificing their life for your freedom?
To those who have sacrificed so much:
It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived. — General George S. Patton
We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them. — Francis A. Walker
The dead soldier’s silence sings our national anthem. — Aaron Kilbourn
It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle. - Norman Schwarzkopf
The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage. - Thucydides
And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me. -Lee Greenwood
“War does not determine who is right—only who is left.” ~Anonymous