It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is Memorial Day already. Christmas was only a few weeks ago and Easter was last week. At least that’s the way it seems to me. Time is speeding by faster every day.
I remember the last day of WWII, VJ Day, August 15, 1945. I was about 2 1/2 years old then but it is embedded in my brain. My brother JSG was two months old and mom had spread a blanket on the lawn and she was sitting there beside him while my older brother and I were playing around them. Suddenly all of the bells in town began to ring, fireworks were being set off, and our paper carrier, a boy from down the street, came running and shouting “The war is over, the war is over” and my mom began to cry. She had three brothers fighting in Europe, and my dad’s youngest sister was an Army nurse stationed in the Pacific. Not sure where in the Pacific but she would also be coming home.
Mom’s two older brothers were both Mess Sargent’s (and once when I called them cooks one of them quickly corrected me). They were in separate units in France and then Germany, one of them making sure there were no onions or garlic in his food. He never did like them and never used them after he came home either.
Mom’s youngest brother, Leo, began his fighting in North Africa and fought his way to Berlin, working north through Italy, France and then on to Germany. Three times he was the only survivor of battles and was scarred for life from the survivors guilt. Today they can treat this but back then it was called “battle fatigue” or something like that and there was no treatment offered to the affected people.
According to a family story my Aunt Trudy had the distinct privilege (?) of giving John Kennedy the first pain shot after his PT 109 incident. Whether true or not we don’t know, but it was a tale going around while she was still living, so maybe it is true.
We have had veterans in several wars over the years, beginning with my several times great-grandfather, Michael Cashin, an Irish immigrant who fought with the Union Army in the un-Civil War. My sister found the ship’s log where Michael signed in for his voyage to America, shipping out of Wycliff, County Wycliff. Once I knew the year he shipped out but can’t remember it now. He met a lady named Elizabeth on board and they were married after arriving in Baltimore.
My dad’s parents were from Germany, and Pop came to this country in the late 1890’s, settling first in Jasper, IN where he met and married Anna Klemper, known to all of us as Mom. They built a house in Daviess County, KY in 1904 and raised their children there. The house is no longer there, destroyed after some drug pusher cooked their poison in the cellar of the by then abandoned house. I have so many fond memories of that house where my dad was born. We don’t know if any of the relatives left behind in Germany ever served in the army there, but I have visited Bavaria, staying in a Gasthaus once owned by a Goetz family. The chance of some relatives being drafted into the German army are pretty good, but again, no one knows.
Much closer to today are my brother and youngest sister, both serving in the Air Force, my brother a career man and my sister serving for 12 years before resigning to raise her children. One of my cousins, Leo’s son, was also career Air Force, while two of my brothers were Marine and National Guard. At least one cousin in the Navy, my husband in the Navy, and several in the Army during the Viet Nam era, and an uncle by marriage, career AF, flying helicopters in Viet Nam. There might be others I don’t remember, but to all of them, I send my thanks for their service.
And to all veterans everywhere, Thank you!
I still have problems getting my photos to do what I want them to do, but here are the WWII veterans, top photo Uncles Vird, Leo, and John, next Uncle John somewhere in France, and bottom, Uncle Vird, Aunt Trudy, and Uncle Leo.
I have heard an amusing tale about Uncles Vird and Leo from my aunt. Uncle Vird had a weekend pass and a jeep in Paris. As he was driving around he spotted Uncle Leo standing against a building, more likely leaning against it since he was visibly exhausted. Vird stopped and asked him if he wanted a ride and Leo got in the jeep and leaned back for the ride without looking at the driver. They drove around for a while and then Vird asked Leo if he was ever going to say hello to his brother. At that point Leo looked over and was very happy to see Vird. That was the first time either of them had seen the other since they were drafted. Some time later the three of them met in France, and from there went their separate ways until they finally met again in Berlin. Three of my heroes.