10 November 2010

A War Story (in honor of Veteran's Day)

My dad wanted to enlist in the Army during World War II. He was born in 1918, so he was a bit older than the average soldier when the war rolled around, but like every able-bodied man at the time, he wanted to go.

He signed up and kept reporting for duty, but was turned away several times because the Army had lost his paperwork.

In the meantime, he was working in Long Beach as a welder, building warships. Finally, he got tired of waiting.

He sold all of his possessions, including his car. He reported to the Army with the clothes on his back and $5 in his pocket.

"You have to take me now," he said. "I have nowhere else to go and no money to get there if I did."

They took him, and he served in the 3rd Army, 261st Field Artillery Battalion in Europe, including fighting in the Battle of the Bulge.

Dad in Germany 1945
Dad in Germany, 1945 Click to see larger

Here is a poem my dad carried in his wallet along with pictures of the family. It obviously meant something special to him:
I was that which others did not want to be.
I went where others feared to go, and did what others failed to do.
I asked nothing of those who gave nothing,
and reluctantly accepted the thought of eternal loneliness, should I fail.
I have seen the face of terror, felt the stinging cold of fear, and enjoyed the sweet taste of a moment’s love.
I have cried, pained, and hoped…but most of all I have lived times that others would say were best forgotten.
At least some day I will be able to say that I was proud to be what I was…a soldier.
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