Last evening I went through a wooden box of World War II memorabilia that belonged to my dad – a member of The Greatest Generation. The collection includes many old photographs. My dad enjoyed photography as a young man, and each place he visited, he snapped photos - many of them. I have many images of places he visited and of friends he made during his service. Also included in the collection are old half-used war ration books, his dog tags, a Dixie Division patch that was on his uniform and personal correspondence – letters a young farmer and soldier wrote home - homesick for the beautiful rural hills of Itawamba County, Mississippi, missing his young bride, and longing to see his mom, dad, brothers and sisters. His time in service was simply the first time he had been away from home and family.
Going through that collection last evening brought back many fond memories from my youth when I would sit with my dad going through the old photograph collection. He knew the names of every young soldier in the photographs and looking at those pictures he had taken decades earlier would bring back vivid memories and powerful stories. I will always remember those stories he told when I was a kid as we thumbed through the aging photographs.
In later years he always wondered what became of his fellow soldier friends during the war. After the war, the young soldiers simply went their separate ways back to their homes and farms all across the country. In his last years I recall many times he would sit in his favorite chair watching the television as news was broadcast of recent wars. As the images of young soldiers flashed before him, many times a tear would run down the quiet elderly man’s face. He simply knew what they were going through and understood fully the sacrifices they were making serving their country. He once had walked in their shoes many miles and many years before them.
Today is Veterans Day. Let’s not forget the veteran and the sacrifices they have made for their country.