As we honor our Veterans for Veterans Day 2013, I want to say a special thank you to my parents.
He did what needed to be done without complaint. As a young boy growing up during the depression, he threw papers to help support his family. He took an extra job as an assistant at the local drug store, helping deliver prescriptions so that his sister could take dance lessons.
When recruiting started in preparation for World War II, he enlisted in 1941 at a grand $21 per month. In spite of the salary, Mother still married him in 1942 and moved to Arkansas where he was stationed so that both of them could live on $21 a month.
When the war started, they knew he would be leaving, but not when. At that time, government secrets like troop movements were actually secrets! So Mother was not surprised when one day he just didn’t come home from work at the post. She waited 24 hours as he had instructed, then went to the post to see it had been disserted. He had shipped out to Europe. No voicemail. No letters. No video. Just gone.
Over time she found out he was in England. As a medical supply officer, there was little chance he would actually be part of the invasion, but then she didn’t really know what he was doing or where he was in England. I have many of their letters back and forth, with lines and words redacted by the sensors. Certainly there was never a hint about where he was in England or what his duties were.
Meanwhile on the home front, Mother moved back home to live with her parents and contribute to the war effort. Working alongside her father, she serviced the vending machines in the factories in their area, where war goods were being manufactured.
I remember her talking about “The War Effort” and the rationing, but it wasn’t until we visited the World War II Museum recently that I truly appreciated the full effort put in by those on the Home Front.
Imagine saving the grease from cooking – because it could be recycled and used to oil guns and machinery. Did you know that it took 30 lipstick tubes to make one bullet? Or that each tin can used in cooking was then recycled into war machinery? It was truly awe-inspiring to see how everyone helped in the effort to equip and win World War II.
I could go on for hours, talking about the rich military history of which I am so proud. I grew up as an Army brat and married an Army man, who is himself an Air Force brat. I loved being a part of the military world.
And those are just a few of the reasons I give a particularly heartfelt “Thank You” to all of our Veterans here and abroad on Veterans’ Day. It is an honor to know you and truly a privilege that you serve our cause for peace. Thank you!
Author’s Note: If you are in New Orleans, I highly recommend a day at the World War II Museum. Download the app ahead of time so you can get an idea of the breadth of the exhibits. Then buy the ticket that includes both the movie narrated by Tom Hanks and the submarine simulation experience. Both are very powerful. Spend 20 minutes just sitting in the lobby of the Boeing exhibit, appreciating what our country achieved in production from our factories. Talk to the docents around the museum, many of whom are World War II veterans. Incredible stories!