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Tue May 28, 2019, 04:57 AM

Today, I've read so many beautiful tributes to those who've fallen on the battlefield & those who

Last edited Tue May 28, 2019, 12:36 PM - Edit history (1)

passed decades later, often never verbally mentioning the hell they went through only shortly before drawing their last breath. After reading the tribute posts here, I want to share the honour 2 men in my family who fought for this country during Jim Crow, an uncle who was a Vietnam vet who was MIA behind enemy lines & my SIL who'd make Superman look like a 98 lb weakling. Firstly, sorry for missing Memorial Day. I wasn't able to log onto DU until doggone near 11:45 pm pst.
With that out of the way, let me begin:
My maternal grandfather was born in west Texas in March of 1920, in a "sundown town". He tried to, as he often told me, love the country that didn't seem to love him or people who looked like him. That's why in 1942 he signed up to fight for America, leaving a 4 & 2 year sons & a unknown to either one of them, a newly pregnant wife, who was carrying my mother, who was born in August of that year.

His first posting was to the Pacific theatre & was due to ship out of San Francisco. The ONLY things that they really knew about California was that it was warm....BUT he found out that the coast of northern California was NOT warm, something that became quite obvious when as a black naval recruit, he along with rest of his brown skinned brethren when they were were FORCED to take COLD showers in UNHEATED quarters that were more than a wee bit breezy. AND even though he was treated with ALOT less respect than members of the Axis, it never crossed his mind to give up on his mission. Most of the time, he was treated like personal butler, when the ship wasn't being attacked. However, as the saying goes, just as there no atheists in the foxhole, you'd be surprised how little people care about the skincolour of the nearest friendly when you need their help.
BTW, he was able to save up enough money from the idiots who paid him to get them a snack, whip up a sandwich or a cuppa to buy a lot & build his family a home in Tulsa Oklahoma.

After the surrender of Japan, he came back through San Francisco, (yet again another cold windy shower)& he volunteered to go to enlist into the segregated units of the Army, helping to liberate BuchenWald & Bergen-Belsen. To the day he died, he would recount the amazing disgust they all had for the Nazis, as they saw, smelled & tasted the death & filth human beings were forced to live in for years, often in situations where these "camps" where located in, around & near towns. He NEVER believed the people who claimed they had NO idea what kind of horrifically awful things were being done to other human beings because, as he would say, "how the f%#k couldn't they smell from a mile or two away when we could smell it from several miles further away?" He would know because there were just TOO many times when riding through TX, he would smell the rotting corpses of lynch victims LONG before they would see them, SO....
He NEVER showed any sympathy for, what he called the civilian monsters who lived their lives each & everyday knowing damn well what was going on but pretending like not only was it not there but completely normal. He had genuine photos of the mostly walking skeletons & the dead, rotting & surprisingly high numbers of almost mummified corpses stacked like cord wood. He would recount what he saw with his own eyes, what unrestricted hatred would do & said that noone who'd see, heard, smelled & tasted what had happened in Europe could ever claim that it had never happened. As he used to say, "Melody, if he Holocaust is a lie, what happened to those 6+ million men, women & children? Are they hiding?" He left us in May 2, 2002 & as my own bio father is a lying, abusive coward, (only beat me, his only surviving daughter), I'll never stop missing Grandpa, who I considered my father. A wonderful man and trust me when I say that he would have been an enthusiastic & funny member, hotly debating, fundraising & continuing to make the world a better place. Miss ya Grandpa...
Now, he had a younger brother, Sonny, who came of age just in time for Korea. Wonderful. Now, again, it was still a time of segregation but things were getting a {{wee}} bit better, which might have explained his choice of the Marine Corp. After fighting for the better part of almost a year, he ended up in a MASH unit & then in several hospitals for almost another 4 months with extreme cold injuries to his feet. When he was finally able to be shipped stateside to a VA hospital in TX, after having losing parts of a few toes& most of a heel, he then spent a year in rehab. Even after he was able to "walk" with the assistance first a walker, then crutches & then a cane, he could wear nothing but house slippers for 2 years. Mama was his favorite niece & she would recount how he would take her for ice cream & called her "Peanut Butter", after her favorite snack.
Uncle Sonny may have healed physically BUT unfortunately his mind was never the same. I think that he would have been diagnosed with & treated for PTSD nowadays. He never married & lived most of the last 20 years of his life as a recluse & alcoholic. Died Alone as noone should ever do. He needed the most help mentally just when that evil jackass reagan came to power & of course, we all know that he believed in people being "free" not to be in a Mental hospital which turned this country into an unnecessary Kolkata, with people CLEARLY unable to take care of themselves & incompetent on the streets, come hail or high water. Uncle Sonny's life needn't have been destroyed because he wanted to answer the call of his nation.

The next person in my family was my Mama's oldest sibling Robert, who served in Vietnam. He was MIA behind enemy lines for the better part of a year. When he was somehow able to get to south Vietnam, we learned how he was able to survive & find his way back home:"He was shot down. He wasn't a pilot but was aboard a supply plane. Apparently, he was badly injured but was lucky enough to be rescued by some villagers who weren't exactly over the moon about the Ho Chi Minh & hid him until they could get him to an orphanage that was cared for by some Catholic nuns. Evidently, there was a type of "underground railroad" for American military that utilised Convents, Orphanages, Bakeries, Haycarts, livestock trailers, in body bags, you name it. He used to regale us with his experiences of eating monkey brains, (well flavored, if that's possible), things that he'd never imagined himself eating because he sprayed bug killer & smashed them with rolled up magazines & swatters on their MUCH smaller American cousins, howling with laughter when I not only turned green BUT green plaid. He served in the Air Force for a full 30 years, retiring from Castle AFB in Atwater Ca. Lawd knows that Uncle Robert & I didn't always see eye to eye, especially toward the end of his life but I'll never take disrespect him or his service to this country. He passed in April 2016, God rest your soul, Uncle Robert.

The last person I want to honor is my SIL. A BEAUTIFUL Bohemian-Czech who was raised in rural Williamson County TX. Born in June 1960, she graduated in 1978. She joined the Navy in 1983 & spent alot of time posted on the west coast & more than a few years in Guam. She was a gorgeous woman but had the perseverance & determination of a Spartan. She did 30 years, finishing her last post at Ridgecrest Naval Air Station. She then went to work for the Post Office, living in Peoria AZ. She didn't die as the result of battle with enemies shooting bullets neither did she ever serve in war fought with other human beings but she served honourably, faithfully & won many awards & citations. She lost her battle with appendiceal adenocarcinoma on March 7, 2016. I love & miss you, gorgeous but I know that you're no longer in pain.
I know that by the time I post this, Memorial Day will be over but I wasn't able to log on in time.

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Reply Today, I've read so many beautiful tributes to those who've fallen on the battlefield & those who (Original post)
The_REAL_Ecumenist May 28 OP
Kind of Blue May 28 #1
Scarsdale May 28 #2
GeoWilliam750 May 28 #3
Rhiannon12866 May 29 #4
FuzzyRabbit May 29 #5

Response to The_REAL_Ecumenist (Original post)

Tue May 28, 2019, 06:06 AM

1. I don't it's ever late for tributes at all.

Thanks so much for posting your family's histories, The_REAL_Ecumenist.

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Response to The_REAL_Ecumenist (Original post)

Tue May 28, 2019, 07:03 AM

2. Thank you for posting this family history.

You certainly can be proud, since members of your family served honorably. It could not have been easy for them, trying to fit in when others were treated more warmly. When people such as Pence casually state to the graduates at West Point that they will more than likely serve in wars, it saddens me. So casual about young lives being tossed on the trash heap of WARS. The only people who benefit are the weapons manufacturers and their investors. Service people who are trying to recover from the senseless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are still fighting to get help for their injuries and PTSD. So, why not jump into another death trap? After all the rich do not risk losing their loved ones who stay home with "bone spurs" and other maladies.

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Response to The_REAL_Ecumenist (Original post)

Tue May 28, 2019, 06:31 PM

3. Thank you for posting

This very nice tribute

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Response to The_REAL_Ecumenist (Original post)

Wed May 29, 2019, 02:26 AM

4. K&R! Such wonderful stories of the true patriots in your family!

Thank you so much for sharing them with us!

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Response to The_REAL_Ecumenist (Original post)

Wed May 29, 2019, 04:07 AM

5. What a great family!

You have every right to be proud of your family.

They represent the best of our nation. Make sure that the young of your family know of them and all they did.

Future generations will remember them with pride.

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