Babe wrote to his family back in Waterbury whenever he could. His mother, a widow, lived for his letters. Every day she would wait on the porch hoping the postman would bring another letter from her middle son. When the letters arrived, they said nothing of the horrors Babe had seen. Instead, he was brief and upbeat:
I am in the best of health and I hope to hear the same from all of you always. Well, things here are moving pretty smooth and the only thing I do is eat and sleep and if I keep it up much longer I’ll be a barrel.
Babe’s story is just one of dozens told by World War II veterans and their families in the NEH-supported seven-part documentary, The War, produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, and written by Geoffrey C. Ward. The film debuted public television.
“World War II veterans are dying at a rate of one thousand a day,” says Burns. “Each death is a set of memories, almost like an entire library disappearing. We felt a kind of urgency to learn their stories and record their deeds.”
Our son served in the Navy and had a tour in Afghanistan. There he saw first hand the sacrifices our men and women have to endure in defense of our freedom. Away from their families, they held on to one another. Looking out not only for themselves but for civilians as well, caught in the crossfire.
As we celebrate Memorial Day, let us not forget the meaning of freedom and the price we all have to pay to preserve it. For some of us who lived through the war we can only imagine the anxiety, the horrors and the times they have to get on their knees praying for protection.
Let us not forget that the freedom we enjoy to day had been paid in advance by all our veterans. For them it was always about “Loving” our country; “Honoring” the sacrament of freedom and “Obeying” the call: that the call to fight for freedom is a holy commitment to the preservation of our country.
This weekend as we enjoy the barbecues, the laughters, the food, the happy event that bring families together; I encourage to stop and spend a little quiet time or a short group prayer thanking all of them. When you meet veterans in uniforms, greet to thank them for what they have done for you and your family.
Happy Memorial Day as we observe the lyrics from hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers”
At the sign of triumph; Satan’s host doth flee;
On, then, Christian soldiers; On to victory.
Hell’s foundations quiver; At the shout of praise;
Brothers, lift your voices; Loud your anthems raise.