Today’s post is an updated version of a piece written for Veteran’s Day, 2012. During the Christmas season, Uncle Leo was hospitalized after a fall. After a three month struggle, he died in early March of 2013. He is still dearly loved, deeply missed, and remembered with fondness.
Yesterday was Veteran’s Day, and in my world it went out with more of a whimper than a bang. However our state’s major newspaper, The Des Moines Register, in a moving salute to World War II vets, had the soldiers tell their stories in their own words.
That story, combined with the passing of my husband’s Uncle Harold, a World War 2 pilot last week, was a reminder of how little time remains for our nation to say thank you to the men and women who risked their lives in that great war. Here are the heroes in our family–some still living and some gone in the past few years–I am proud to call my uncles, and for whom I am grateful today.
Harold Walker, Hiram’s story telling uncle, and pilot in the Pacific Theater near the end of the war. He died a little over a week ago.
Marvin Conrad, my piano-playing and very musical uncle. I believe he served in the Navy in World War 2. He died a little over two years ago, only a few months after visiting Washington, DC on one of the Freedom Flights.
Ordel Rogen, my cattle-raising uncle. He served in some branch of the armed forces in World War 2, though I’m not sure of the details. He died several years ago in December.
Leo Hess, who tells harrowing tales of fighting during the Battle of the Bulge in World War 2. He celebrated his 90th birthday in August and still lives in his own home.
Jim Hoey is my history-loving uncle. He was also a dedicated friend to my dad during his long struggle with multiple sclerosis. Jim served as a Navy medic in the Korean War. He turned 80 in June and still loves to travel and write letters to his grandkids and great-nephews and nieces.
Dear uncles, our thanks for your service is not enough, but it’s all we have to give. Thank you for fighting for freedom.
Because of you, our shared family histories continue.
Because of your sacrifice, our family is able to reunite in the summer to reminisce about old memories and create new ones.
Because of you, little children play without fear.
Because of you, elderly men and women are cared for and safe.
Because of you, we live in peace.
Because of you, we are who we are.
Because of you, we are blessed.
Because of you.