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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Heroes Proved

Just about everybody has somebody (s) in their family that made the ultimate sacrifice for our security and freedom and my bunch is no exception.

These four boys in this old newspaper clipping from The Alexandria Town Talk in 1944 are my uncles, my mom's brothers. The article was praising the brothers for all serving overseas at the same time. How my poor grandmother slept a wink during this period, I do not know. I look at this and am just floored with how young they were, not hardly the middle aged and older men I have known.

I only knew three of them, though, because the first one on the left did not make it back from his tour of duty. He was a gunner in the Air Force and was shot down over Italy in 1944, pretty close to his 25th birthday.

The second one on the left is the only one still living. He is 84 and still travels to the get togethers his unit has. I've never heard him speak of his experiences in the war, which is pretty typical of war vets. He is in possession of the Purple Heart, though, which he received for his injuries. He still has shrapnel in his head.

The one on the far right suffered emotionally due to his experiences. I've always said that three of my uncles survived physically, but, one did not survive emotionally. The military must not have had any resources to help these young guys cope with what they saw and experienced because like a lot of other veterans, he used the bottle to numb his pain, as a result, losing his wife and young boys, never to be part of their lives again.

While I hate war and know the cost pretty close up, I also know that anything worth having is costly. Our family sacrificed much, but, I doubt, if my uncles could talk to us and if the living one would be willing to talk about it, (most of them don't talk about the war) that they would have done it any different.

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness And every gain divine!

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