The Veterans

Salisbury Post- November 10, 2018

It seemed that he talked about it non-stop. The same stories over and over. I remember very little about it - mostly about him being in Normandy, France, and some stories about being an Army cook. 

 

  After the war ended, my father later became a member of the VFW- Veterans of Foreign Wars. He served a term as commander there, and always participated in everything that was offered. 

 

  He arranged for Taps to be played at funerals of soldiers, and he would often hold the flag during military services.

 

  One day, our family went on a long car ride to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC. My father’s nephew, who was in his early 20’s, had been transferred there from Vietnam. He had been shot.

 

  After being discharged from the hospital, he came to live with our family of five in our small mill house. Cannon Mills sent out a crew to build a wheelchair ramp for him, because he was now paralyzed. 

 

  I do not remember my cousin talking about what happened in Vietnam - but I do remember him wheeling that wheelchair around the house, trying to go about his life, and holding out hope that he would be able to walk again. He never did.

 

  Both died at what now seems to be a young age - my father at age 60, my cousin at age 46. 

 

  What you have read so far is all I really remember about the military lives of my father and my cousin, who defended our country in two different wars - World War II and the Vietnam War.

 

  You read it right - all I remember! 

  My father talked about it and I did not listen. 

  My cousin did not talk about it and I did not ask.

 

  And that I greatly regret.

 

How I wish I could hear their stories now. How I wish I could ask a few questions. How I wish I could know more about what it was really like for them.

 

  But, no. I was too busy growing up and thinking about other things, like ‘young girl’ or ‘teenage’ things. Things that I was able to enjoy because I was living in a free country. A country whose freedom has been defended daily by those who have served - and are serving - in our armed forces. 

 

  Veterans Day is a day dedicated to veterans of all wars. It occurs on November 11. In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice was declared between the Allied Nations and Germany in World War I. In 1938, it became known as Veterans Day.

 

  Know a veteran? Love a veteran? Listen to their stories. Ask lots of questions. Don’t let the stories die.

 

  To all the veterans - we thank you.

  We know that our freedom is not free.

  It has been paid for by your sacrifices.

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