He was drafted as a baseball player–Pittsburgh I think, but that had to go on the back burner for the war.
People who knew him told me many stories about him and about his sense of humor and his talent as a ball player. He was my father’s brother but my mother knew him and my father’s family as a young girl, so she knew a lot about him and shared it all with me. She always made sure his memory was kept alive.
They called him “Lefty” because, obviously, he was left-handed. Ironically, I am the only family member since him who is left-handed. And the sense of humor goes without saying. So I guess that even though he died before I was even a thought, I have a bit of him in me. I sometimes get the feeling that I missed something not knowing him.
He had been discharged and scheduled to go home. The war was “over,” but like many brave boys and men of that time, he volunteered for one last optional mission. His clothing and personal belongings were sent home before him as the family prepared for his return–but first, he gladly went off on his voluntary mission in Belgium. There is where he died when a tank was incinerated by ‘former’ enemy fire. He was one of the many soldiers who died “Post war”. I guess the war wasn’t as “over” as they said it was.
I am not sure what the protocol was in those days or what the circumstances were, and my information was second-hand, but my mother was a serious family historian, so I do know that in this case, nobody “Brought him home” for the family when he died. He was buried there for whatever reason, along with others who were with him. From what I understood, there wasn’t much left of him. However, the family, I assume in tandem with the government, spent a great deal of time and effort locating and exhuming his remains in Belgium after the war, so that they could bring him home to be reburied–and they succeeded. In those days, dead or alive, family was family and you never gave up on family. So unlike today.
I never knew my uncle, but I still have many photos of him and letters he sent home. He was a darned good-looking guy, tall and lanky and that glint that told me there was so much of a promising life ahead of him, but for the ravages of war. He was also a very good writer, not only in penmanship, but style. Behind his upbeat tone that made you know he missed everyone in a painful way, but fighting for the USA was his responsibility, you knew things were rough for him and he could use a little pasta fagioli right now.
There is one photo of him in uniform that was always on display in our home, and my brother and I were not to be robbed of the knowledge that we had an uncle who gave his life for our country. When my parents were both gone, I passed along to my Aunt the gold star and flag that were given to my grandmother. The decision here was that when the last of the immediate family died, the flag and star would go with that person. My Aunt is gone now and so is the star and the flag. The younger generation isn’t particularly interested in keeping such mementos, are they now? They travel much lighter and family roots bring with them so many boxes of what are “things” to others and cherished memories to us.
So, today I will honor my Uncle. For me, this is always also a day to reflect upon my immediate family as they are all gone as well. That leaves me to think of them and think of them I do. And then some.
It’s also ironic that Memorial Day should fall on the date in 2008 when democracy died in the Democratic Party. This, I also mourn on behalf of my country.
So, who are you honoring today?
On to a tribute for Memorial Day–and a reminder of how despicable it is today that our youngest and most ignorant, along with our government “leaders”– most of whom never sacrificed a thing for their country except to sit in a chair and Rule– discount and disrespect, discount and demean our elderly by deciding they are no longer valuable now that they have done their jobs and are too old to do more. For all the talk of “Patriotism,” few of them know the meaning of the word like this gentleman knew it:
If you don’t feel this, you have no feelings.