Lonesome Tree in Sandhills

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day: Remembering Why

Yesterday's Memorial Day was just another day for most people, in fact many even had the day off.  However, I would like to take this opportunity to remember my Uncle Albert - a typical farm boy from Nebraska sucked into a war machine.  

A few weeks after I was born, Uncle Albert was sent with the re-formed 106th to the Ardennes Forest, arriving on Dec. 15, 1944, the day before Hitler’s army began the last big German offensive in WWII - the Battle of the Bulge. The 106th officers surrendered after German tanks mowed down most of their troops & the rest were marched & shipped in trains for weeks with little food or water to several stalags, ending up in Stalag III-A near the Oder River on Germany's border with Poland. Six months later, a week before Berlin fell, Russia's army liberated those POW camps & my uncle joined a few POWs who commandered a town's firetruck to get back to France. He was discharged 5 mo. later - a mere shell of his former self at 90 lbs. with most of his hair gone when he arrived back on my grandparents' farm, taking 10 years of Grandma's TLC to heal.

These young men were just ordinary guys living through a hell of someone else’s making ~ enduring the usual ravages of war - in hopes of peace among nations.

Contrast my uncle’s experience with that of 200,000+ Germans captured & brought to POW camps in the States. My home state of Nebraska had 9 POW camps that fed the Germans well & provided labor to nearby farmers whose sons were drafted ~ an odd twist of irony.  When the war ended, many of these young men didn’t want to return to Germany to face the destruction, starvation & roving refugees - they stayed and made a life here in the States.

To all who served or are serving now, and to those who lost loved ones or still have family members in Iraq/Afghanistan ~ Big HUGS ~ Moms