World War II - North Africa (Dec 6, 1942)

My daddy was a first generation American.  He enlisted in the Army on January 27, 1941.  He was only 18 years old.  By December that year, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States joined in on World War II.   He was so loyal, and so proud to serve his country.  

He taught me what it means to be an American.  His parents emigrated here from Poland.  They insisted that he learn English.  They instilled in him a deep faith and a strong work ethic.  They believed that if you came to this country and worked hard, you could live a good life.  My dad passed these ethics down to his children.  

My dad was proud to be a WWII vet, in spite of having malaria eleven times; in spite of the scars on his soul.  Let's face it, war is hell.  Especially if you're in the trenches for four years.  

When he retired, my parents moved from New Jersey to Quitman, Texas.  He was Commander of the Wood County Disabled Veterans Chapter 158, a member and past officer of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion.

Every year, he proudly marched in the Veterans Day parade in Wood County.  In an interview for the Wood County Democrat, Dad spoke of landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944.  "You just didn't know who saved your life," he said.  "The only way I made it was by stepping in the footprints ahead of me one step at a time."

He encouraged other veterans to join the veteran organizations.  "We need to still stand as one, together for this nation," he said.  "We are one country and we must stick together as one people.  People have died for that flag.  We must never desecrate the flag or what it stands for."

When Dad passed away, we honored him with a military funeral, complete with the 21-gun salute.

My nephew Zachary followed in his grandfather's footsteps.  He joined the Marines when he was 18, and served faithfully for five years.  Grandpa is so proud of you, Zack!

I think Dad would be disappointed to see that the country he loved so much and fought so hard for has abandoned its veterans.  Many are homeless.  Many are jobless.  Many don't get the medical care that they need.  They are suffering from the physical and psychological effects of bodily injuries as well as exposure to toxins and dangerous chemicals.  

They fought for us.  Now it's up to us.  We need to defend the men and women who fought so valiantly to defend our freedom.

I saw this article listing 14 ways to show your thanks to veterans.

Need more ideas?  Here are 100 ways to honor a veteran.

Perhaps most important of all, we need to go beyond thanking or honoring those who served.  We need to help them in more tangible ways.  

I liked #98 in the above list: Support veteran-based legislation.  

Let's be vocal.  Let's help them get the help they need.  

May God bless America.  And may God bless our veterans.  Thank you, Daddy.