Friday, November 08, 2013

Veteran's Day

I used to call my two brothers on Veteran’s Day and tell them they were my favorite veterans!

This year Veteran’s Day has an even more special meaning to me. It was my assignment last month to write the obituary for my last remaining brother. In the last year and a half our family lost our two brothers who had served in the military. One was 86 and the other was 88. They were career military Army, both fought in World War II and Korea. The younger brother Brian also fought in Vietnam.

Those are the bare facts. The older brother Lee graduated from high school and immediately joined the Army with friends and relatives. The entered WWII in North Africa, took part in the Italian Campaign taking Rome on June 4, 1944. My brother told of being in the Coliseum after taking Rome when the announcement came that the Channel Invasion had started on June 6; the Allies were landing at Normandy. Two big battles later, Monte Cassino and Anzio, my brother was injured and taken to France to recover. He joined an anti-tank unit and they liberated part of France and went on into Germany. He never forgot that General Patton in a jeep convoy stopped at their anti-tank armored vehicle and congratulated them for their good work in France. His battalion was awarded the French Croix de Guerre by the French Government, for bravery and valor in the Liberation of France.

The younger brother flew a helicopter in Korea and did two tours in Vietnam before returning to his home in Michigan.

 Neither talked much about war experiences.  My nieces and nephews call them heroes, but they would have denied that and just said they were “grunts” like cartoonist Bill Mauldin’s Willie and Joe.

Standing in Fort Custer Military Cemetery in Michigan last weekend, with almost as many flags planted as there were trees, I gave  thanks to all veterans, especially my older brothers, Lee and Brian.

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