I was in grade school when FDR died, VE and VJ days happened,
so there are still a couple of folks around (Mid 80's) that I know,
but when you start seeing your high school classmates start
showing up in the obits on a rather frequent basis, you know time
is marching on.
On Thu, 06 Jun 2013 19:57:05 -0500, Alfred E. Newman
Like the lyrics of that song
Over their, over their,
Send the word, send the word over their
That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming
The drums rum-tumming everywhere.
So prepare, say a prayer,
Send the word, send the word to bewear -
We'll be over, we're coming over,
And we won't come back till it's over, over their.
My Dad is 92 and doesn't go out very often these days. That's a recent
development, and he doesn't like it very much. He worked as an attorney
until just a couple of years ago. When he does go out (usually with me
accompanying him on an errand) he often wears his WWII Veteran cap.
People notice; As you say, WWII vets are getting more scarce.
He served in the U.S. Army in the Italy campaign. Like many, he never
talked a great deal about the war, excepting some humorous bits. I'll
have to ask him what his rank was at the end of the war. It was at least
Lieutenant, perhaps Captain. He remembers things like that a good bit
better than more recent events.
After Italy had surrendered, my Dad had been promised a trip to
Switzerland before heading home. He was all packed to go when he got a
set of last-minute orders. Switzerland would have to wait.
A proclamation had been prepared, memorializing the fallen on both sides
and announcing a new era of friendship and cooperation between Italians
and Americans. It was written in very formal Italian and the Army needed
an officer who spoke some Italian to read it in each of many towns and
cities in northern Italy.
My dad led a unit of (I believe) a couple of hundred and read the
proclamation in the town square of each new location. Sometimes on the
city hall steps, sometimes even in the window of the cathedral bell
tower. And the whole town would be there. He felt "like 'Il Duce'", he
He never got to Switzerland, and owing to a busy practice, never got
back to Europe at all until he was 70 or so.
He stayed in the Reserve until his 30 years were up, going to monthly
meetings and attending two weeks a year of training. By then he was a
Colonel, so our family got to with him several times on those summer
My Dad had a tough time getting away, so a couple of weeks at Indiantown
Gap (PA) or Fort Devens (MA) would be our vacation. The accommodations
were pretty spartan, but there was usually a lake or a pool and - away
from his office - my Dad had his evenings free. We'd go for a drive to
the local ice cream parlor or to a movie, or perhaps just a spin through
the countryside on the middle weekend.
His Reserve outfit was a Civil Affairs unit; he was the Commander of a
bright bunch of officers trained to take over the operation of an
occupied city in wartime, or an American city if the war was at home.
Luckily none of that ever came to pass, but my Dad did get to do an
overnight stint as Mayor of New York City once for training purposes.
I'm sorry to go on for this long, but I've been slowly gathering my
thoughts about such things lately. My Dad only became "old" very, very
late in life, but the time is coming when I may need to compose
something in his honor. There will be no way to make it adequate, but I
hope to come up with something fitting.
This is your last chance to get those stories, but most important write
them down. While at this point you children probably have absolutely no
interest in their family history, when it is too late they will become
Don't worry about writing the stories down in a polished form, ie
properly punctuate, perfectly spelled, or what your high school English
teacher would expect. Just write them down as you father told, so the
data is recorded.
The polishing can be done later by you or your child if they become that
interested in their history.
"Sorry", HELL, you have nothing to be sorry about except if you don't
the time to document your father's tales while you still can.
Time is not on your side, don't waste it.
I lost my mother at 103 in 2008.
I got a lot of it, but could have gotten more.
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