koimaster wrote:"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived." General George Patton
A family friend recently passed away at 96. Vernon served with the 1st Armored Division in WWII. As Conjurer said and as has been said before, the "Greatest Generation" and the ones who saved the world from the evils of Hitler and Tojo.
One day, at my old job, a dapper-looking older fellow came in who I was helping find a book. He was tall, rail-thin, dressed well in a suit and tie, and was wearing a "WWII Veteran" pin on his lapel. Like always, I thanked him for his service, and he was very gracious and understated. It turned out he was in his early nineties (he looked like he was in his seventies, in very good shape), and the he had been a B-17 bomber pilot, flying missions over Germany. The remarkable thing was that he flew fifty missions; back in those days, if an Army Air Force crew member flew (and survived) 25 missions, he was sent back to the States to train new flyers. This guy, because he didn't want to leave his crew behind, signed up to fly another 25 missions, and survived.
this guy had. I'm surprised he didn't clank as he walked. And he wasn't out of the ordinary; there were thousands, millions of these young kids. They were children of the Great Depression. They were, on the whole, shorter than us, they grew up with not enough to eat, wearing hand-me-down clothes. For many, their first issued combat boots were the first new shoes they every owned. They grew up poor, but when the chips were down, they made their impact. Without the United States, the world would have fallen into a new Dark Age of Nazism and fascism. If they hadn't stepped up, and saved the world, today would have been quite different.
They went ahead and fought. They had nothing at all to gain, and everything to lose. They fought, and they killed the fascists by the bushel. A lot were drafted, and a lot joined up on their own. They fought all over the globe. They and their equally courageous brothers and sisters in free countries all over the world fought. They killed their way to glory. They saved the world. In the abstract, they fought and killed because that's what the world needed to be free. In reality, they fought, as every soldier has fought in the past since we were killing other Cro-Magnons; for their buddies. For the guy next to them. That's why the old B-17 pilot signed up for another 25 missions. It was because he couldn't let his crew down.
Balls of brass.