In memory of my father who served during WWII, the Korean Conflict, and in other parts of Asia. This is from his personal memoirs:
One day in WWII, I was working with an infantry outfit in a little village outside of Orleans and the Germans were acting up a little bit. We were walking down a narrow street and the Germans opened up with machine guns. Most of the section troops ducked into a doorway on the opposite side of the street and I ducked into one on the other side. The door was locked and I couldn’t get in and all I was doing was standing pressed up against the door and the bullets were nicking pretty close. I decided that maybe I could get across the street to where the other guys were hiding. The street wasn’t that wide, probably no more than an alley, but it was still open. I got jammed up against the door as hard as I could; took my helmet off so it wouldn’t fall off; got my rifle clutched tight, put my head down and took off across the street. I wasn’t planning to stand there and open the door, I was planning on going right through the door. Just as I got to the door, it opened and I ran through the room and into the wall on the other side of the room. Seems that my buddies had seen me through the window and knew what I was doing. They stood there looking at me on the floor and laughing and asked me “What’s the matter? Didn’t you think we’d open the door?”
Close to the end of the war, we were staying in an old chateau. Rumor had it that it had belonged to Napoleon’s daughter at one time. The Germans had been in there and when they got kicked out, we moved in. Written on the one wall was something in German that took my eye. I couldn’t read German so I wrote it down and got someone to translate it later. It was from a German soldier and said: “To the American soldier who reads this: May we never meet on the battlefield and may you return to your home victorious and I to mine alive.”
This is from his book “Memories Along the Tuscarora” (c1991)
“I was thinking of all the parades we have every year and I got to thinking about those forgotten men who sit in a dark corner in some nursing home and, yes, some memories can bring tears. I wrote this about WWI soldiers in 1988.”
“The Old Veteran”
Seventy years ago, he was young and proud,
Now he lives in the home, just one of the crowd.
Does anyone remember what happened this day?
Does anyone care as they go on their way?
Yes, he remembers the uniform he wore
As he fought in a battle on a distant shore.
His country’s flag he remembers with pride.
He remembers the men who fought by his side.
Ah, it is all past now, and many forgot
That he was a hero, believe it or not.
He carried that flag in Balleau Wood
And on November the eleventh, with it he stood
One of the proud victors of that war.
He remembers this and so much more.
He remembers his friends who died over there,
No wonder he weeps for someone to care.
So give him a smile as you pass him by.
If you have the time, hold his hand and try
to imagine him when he was there.
Try at least to show that you really care.
True, other wars were fought since then
And other heroes there have been,
But that does not lessen his duty there
Of keeping American so free and fair.