On Honoring

Considering that events are like dominos, determining the most significant events in a century is actually difficult – but, for the effect on my life, it’s World War II. With this week marking another anniversary of D-Day Invasion, it’s good timing for this post.

It’s hard to imagine 16 million Americans serving in the Armed Forces at that time – let alone over 400,000 deaths. Then add to that the number of serving the Allies from other countries, and those too that died. Top that off with the huge effort at home. Simply wow!

The survivors became what journalist Tom Brokow called The Greatest Generation – the hard workers, respectful citizens, community leaders, and business leaders that built the success of the post-war America. We baby boomers grew up around these men, and lived a life because of them.

Personally, my dad fought in WW II as an 18 year old who left high school to serve – and he re-enlisted in the 1950s. In 2008, I took him to what would be his last reunion with his friends, and I later wrote about my weekend with the Greatest Generation, a post most of my current readers haven’t seen. (John, you will like it.)

Because WW II was such a defining moment for this country and the world, I’m amazed that the U.S. didn’t have a national monument for the effort until 2004. Then again, perhaps that is because of the humble nature of these men and those times that we didn’t understand until later.

My dad passed away several years ago at age 84, yet he never saw the National WW II Memorial – I now understand that I should have taken him. Honor Flight is an organization with a mission of taking surviving veterans to this worthy memorial in Washington – and doing so free of charge. I encourage readers to consider a donation to this cause.

When Dad passed away, a dinner group friend asked me about making a donation in his memory – and I suggested Honor Flight. Last week that friend sent me a link with an article and a video while saying, “I thought of your dad when I saw this.” Needless to say, and after two years, I was touched and cried for a variety of reason. Enjoy the video.

45 thoughts on “On Honoring

      • The memorial is a mixed blessing. Some of it is beautiful — the marble and granite. But after having visited the nearby Vietnam and Korean memorials which give you a true sense of the sacrifice of wars, the WWII is a disappointment. More than anything, I believe that WWII was both a fight between good and evil and was fought at great cost. There is really no sense of that at the WWII memorial. I haven’t been back.

        Sad, I think. Really sad.

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  1. Cried. Thank you Frank, great post. Too bad our stupid President can’t acknowledge the day. He’s too busy fund raising for a country he hates.

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  2. Great Post. Winning World War 2 was the country’s major accomplishment in the 20th Century: it put America as the center of the universe for many years. We now live in a time, where things are not so America centered, and that raises anxiety levels for our nation. These vets and the Truman decisions to rebuild Europe not pillage it, left for us a great 50 year legacy. Wow indeed.

    Lastly, the time for any war veterans to get a memorial is just disgusting to me. It even took nearly forever for a Korean War memorial. My dad fought in that war. I think we citizens do not thank our soldiers as much as we should.

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    • Randel,
      Great point about the American legacy associated with WW II. Good point about the memorials … As the Korean Memorial took too long, it was up before WW II. Thanks for commenting.

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  3. What a great video Frank! Those guys absolutely deserve the title of The Greatest Generation. Just think, if we had that many willing and able to stand up now, backed by the kind of support they had at home, those who threaten us now wouldn’t stand a chance!

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  4. I will have to check out your old post tomorrow, my friend – I’m trying to get the house put to bed (after retiring my US 48-star flag, my Union Jack, and my Canadian Red Ensign, to honour the boys on Utah and Omaha beaches, Gold and Sword beaches, and Juno beach, respectively.
    My recommendation for your readers? Go out to CBS News (www.cbsnews.com, I believe) and look for a story about Billie Harris. His wife, married to him only 6 weeks before he shipped out, only knew him as missing in action until a relative found out he had been listed as Killed In Action shortly after D-Day. Meanwhile, a small French town (which he just barely managed to miss while crash-landing his fighter) buried him in town and marked the town center with his name. It’s a tear-jerking story of a wife mourning a husband, without remarrying, for over 6 decades, while a small French town honoured the same man, tending his grave for 8 years before his body was moved by US authorities to the large cemeteries overlooking the beaches, where they honoured him 3 times a year – a tale of one man, loved by a woman and a town for 68 years, and the fantastic story that finally brought his widow and his guardian town together over 6 decades later. Well worth the read and the watch, but beware – I’ve watched the story three times, and sobbed like a little girl every time.

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  5. Hi,
    What a fantastic video, it did bring tears to my eyes, just so wonderful to see these brave soldiers greeted, good on everyone that took the time to go to do this, just fantastic.

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  6. Thanks for sharing. In these times, I am not always proud to be an American. But to honor our soldiers, I am very proud and would have been cheering at the airport as well. We all should, all the time..

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  7. My father was too young to fight in WWII, but 3 of my uncles did. Luckily all came back, but 1 was changed forever. He fought in Palestine, Crete and New Guinea and saw too many terrible things to ever want to speak about it.
    Anzac Day is a very special day in Australia and thousands of people attend dawn services and parades in towns and cities all over the country.
    It is important to remember these men and women who fought for us.

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  8. In grad school I studied WWII. I have always been fascinated by this time period and I’m in awe of the bravery of so many of the soldiers who fought in this devastating war. Your father and all of the men and women are heroes. Thanks for the tribute.

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  9. WWII would certainly easily qualify as the most significant event of the 20th century, for America as well as much of the rest of the world, for better or worse. Even in today’s vastly changing attitudes, few question the necessity of that fight or the sacrifice of those who fought it.

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  10. A most sensitive loving honoring post! Your father deserved [as do all service men] the deep respect they’ve earned! Wonderful video! I can assure you, your dad has earned a heavenly mansion! He can now fly on his own~Sincerely Deb

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  11. i’m so glad I didn’t miss this, Frank. Of course you’ve got me covered in tears over here now, but you’d have to be pretty tough not to respond to this video! Another member of the Greatest Generation who also fought in WW II passed away today…one of my dad’s oldest and best friends. I mourn the loss of this generation as it passes…I think you are really on to something true when you mention that perhaps it took so long for the memorial to be built because these men and women were/are very humble. i have other veteran organizations on my charitable radar, but haven’t heard of Honor Flight, but I would like to know more. I thank you for this relevant and moving post. Debra

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    • Debra,
      Sorry to hear about the loss of your dad’s close friend – unfortunately, something that is repeated throughout the country many times a day. Nonetheless, that generation contributed a lot!!! Following the Honor Flight link, which interestingly, started here in my state. I first learned about Honor Flight in 2009 – here’s a post with a news report about it. https://afrankangle.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/on-a-retrospective-to-veterans-day-2009/. …. a side note … they are at honorflight.org … and on they note on their site that the dot com version is where vets pay. (how sad). Thanks for sharing and commenting.

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  12. Frank, I learned 2 things from this post: (1) that you must only know one JOHN* and (2) how you came to be born in Trieste.

    *I tell people that I am of the opinion that there should be at least one John in every building.

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