Monday, June 18, 2007
Father's Day and more......
For Father's Day, my children, and I took Don to the "World War II Museum" formally known as the "D-Day Museum" in New Orleans, for a tour. We've been there before but it's been a few years and when you love history like my husband and I do, especially WWII history, going once to that type of museum isn't enough. There is so much information and so many exhibits and photos that you just can't ingest it all in one visit. PLUS they add in new exhibits and things all the time.
We had planned the day as a "surprise" for Don so we didn't tell him until Sunday morning when we needed to get ready and he "over dressed" for the occasion. HA!
I had to make him "dress down." Funny! Maybe he thought he was going somewhere "fancy" or receiving some sort of "award" for "BEST Dad of the year" or something.....however, that wasn't the case, so I told him what we were doing and he realized that wearing shorts with a simple polo shirt and "Crocs" were appropriate attire.
Once arriving, you see a mixed, barrage of people of all ages, nationalities, and various races, there doing what we were there to do....learn and remember.
Over the course of about 3-4 hours, you are inundated with hundreds of photos with corresponding information about them, various exhibits, and listen to first hand accounts via movies and videos of courageous men and women who fought to regain the freedom of most of Europe and the South Pacific and ultimately......retain the freedoms held by those living here in America.
When I think of the D-Day invasion and the war as a whole, I totally can't imagine what it must have been like to live in that era.
EVERYONE was affected. Everyone you would have known had some loved one fighting somewhere in the world, wither it be in Europe, or Africa or the South Pacific. Everyone you would have known would have been doing "their part" for the war effort. There were no choices about that like there are today. This was done as a "nation" for the benefit of the world.
I entered the Museum wearing on my right wrist a silver colored, braided, metal, bracelet, in honor of my Grandfather....."Herman Hirner" who had made it while he was on board a navel ship in the South Pacific. The one I was wearing he had made for his wife, my Grandmother. He made a tiny one for my Mother who was a small child at the time. My Aunt Pat has a ring that he made from a coin during his Navy days as well. I'm sure his "jewelry making" was a result of "boredom" and trying to find things to do to keep ones self from going crazy from fear and wondering.
For all the years I've known my Grandfather....and that's alot, HA! He never will talk to me or others about the war. We knew he was in the Navy, we knew he was in the South Pacific, but from there, it's all been vague. Even my Mother and her siblings didn't really know what he did during the war because he wouldn't talk about it and with my Grandmother being deceased now some 23 years, I thought we would never learn what had happened to him to make him so grumpy about his war experience.
Since the movies that came out like "Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brother's" and other serious war flicks, my curiosity had stirred greater to know what was my Grandfather's story. Then two years ago, Don and I went to visit him in Missouri and we were able to "coax" a bit of VALUABLE information out of him and we were so excited.
My Grandfather was 27 years old when he signed up to join the Navy, that was a bit old I thought compared to most of the men plus he had a wife and 2 small children at that time...my Mom and My Aunt Pat...they were both under 3 probably at the time.
I asked him "Why did you do it, why did you sign up to join" and he said....."because I felt I needed to help fight." Good answer.
Especially since both of his parents spoke German.
His Father, my Great Grandfather "Melchoir," was from a small town called "Schwäbisch Gmünd" that is in the county of Baden-Württemberg. It's the area known as "lower Saxony," the South/Eastern region of Germany.
His Mother, my Great Grandmother, "Angelique" was from Aus Saus Lorraine.
Which back then ....one day was France and one day Germany. HA! Today it's considered France.
My Grandmother when writing to me once about my Great Grandmother's countrymen said this to me in a letter "they must have been a fighting bunch of people." HA! HA! Ummm......I think history proves she was right about that presumption.
My Grandfather was a mechanic in America, when he signed up for the Navy. They put him to work on what we have all come to know as the "Higgins Boats" which was a type of military personal "landing craft" made right in New Orleans. These boats were highly effective in manuvering the troops to the beaches once they got off of their big boats.
My Grandfather who as I said earlier was in the South Pacific, told us that once they got to the beaches, that his job was to immediately "tear down" the engines and rebuild them back quickly because all the coral and sand had messed the engines up by the time they had pulled the men up to the beach to unload them.
Sometimes he said they did that "while bullets were flying over their heads" because the men that landed were engaged in battles sometimes as soon as they got off their Higgins boat.
We had never known this about him and his time in the Navy. He had never opened up about it because it was too traumatic for him to talk about. We didn't get much more information from him that day .....but we had heard enough to impact us.
I have learned that ALL families have a history, within history.
We all have a story to tell and that is what makes us "who" we are. Some things our families experienced may not have been so pleasant, some things may have been shocking and offensive. Whatever it may be, we can learn from it and hopefully be better people ourselves as a result of whatever happened.
I think that is what happened to not only America but to many Nations of the world during those 6 long, hellish years. People had to rely on each other, making them one big "family." Had they not banded together, they might not had made it. Alot of men were gone, off fighting, women had to have their babies without them, and then raise them for years alone. People had to plant "Victory Gardens" to help with the food supply. Men and even women had to work in factories, producing everything needed to fight a war. Many things were rationed, from food to tires to gas, to ladies nylong stockings, you name it.
Did people complain? I don't believe they did, not like today. Why? Because their Brother, their Son, their Dad, their Uncle was somewhere off fighting and they wanted life to be "easier" on them "over there" where ever there was, and they wanted them to come home.
Today, we have NO concept of this thinking that our nation had in the 40's.
I don't see or know anyone who makes any sacrifices due to the war now days. This is a good and a bad thing. I mean it's great that we don't have to suffer the consequences of the war we are currently in. That is unless you have a family member who is in Iraq or Afghanistan. It's BAD because again, we can't relate to how our Grandparents and or parent's lived. We go on our merry way, not thinking much about our "soldiers" who are overseas and it's wrong.
They and their families are making huge sacrifices especially in their family lives.
I see Patriotism waning in the face of our nation.
Mainly because of all of us who are becoming tired of seeing our boys killed every day in this war we can't seem to "get a grip on." I hate seeing the news when another young soldier's life has been taken from this earth and especially if this young man or woman is near my city and several have been. Even recently a young man from Zachary was just killed. It grips my heart even more the closer to home these soldiers are.
As a Mother of THREE sons, and a daughter, I feel for those Mother's whose sons and daughters
"gave the ultimate sacrifice." It's so sad.
I am by no means a "war advisor," but in my heart I don't feel it can be abandoned yet.
What if our men had given up during the hard times of WWII?
When I think of D-Day on Normandy beach, I am totally amazed. In the first 24 hours of that massive invasion, America lost approx. upwards of 5000 men that day alone. To have been a wife or mother on that day of a soldier must have been totally frightful. Yet, it was a turning point of the war in Europe.
When this war first started, I sent packages and cards and letters to soldiers.
I was "all about supporting our troops"....now I am sad to admit I haven't sent any packages or letters or cards in ages. I can't exactly tell you why I've let up, complacency maybe? Probably. I just am not "connected" like I was before in the early stages of the war. My friends had sons over there, then my niece went. They all have come back now and some are out of the military even.
Now I don't have anyone "related" to me or that I somewhat know involved in the war any longer, but that fact doesn't help all the thousands who are STILL over there.
I hope and pray we can hang in there and help make things right quickly in Iraq and then bring our soldiers home once again. I know that is their families wish more than it is mine.
I ask all of you reading this, to please consider our soldiers who are all over the world, but especially those who are in harms way in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Please remember to pray for them and support them in anyway you can and I will as well. Thank GOD my Grandfather made the same decision these soldiers have today, through realizing that freedom is the right thing to fight for and signing up was "the right thing to do."
Freedom isn't really free, this isn't just a cliche......there REALLY is a price attached to it and someone DID pay the price for it for me and for you and more than likely with their own lives.
Otherwise, we might ALL be speaking German ourselves today and not because our Great Grandparents did.
Get my point?