Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veterans Day

Salute To Veterans
Uncle Irvin in Rome WWII
Family Photo NFS

Are Those Statues Wearing Shorts?

I was thinking that tomorrow is Veterans Day, since I thought I heard that the kids are out of school on Monday. (I guess I heard wrong, though.) But, I just realized that today is the day. I had hoped that we would get to go out to the Veterans Day parade downtown and to the Veterans Memorial where my uncle's name is listed. But, without someone to drive, I guess I will just stay at home this year. The youngsters, certainly, need to participate in these things.
I did want to do something special on my blog, to honor veterans. I had planned to do some art work, or photograph something that I have already done, for this day.

In our family, we only had two, that I know of, who were able to serve in the military. Most were too old or had health problems at the time of conflicts in the past. And there was a great-grandfather (and his brothers) who served in the American Civil War.

Above is a photo that my uncle sent back to the family when he was on leave in Rome during WWII. He was in the 88th Infantry QM division, the Blue Devils. This photo was "shocking" to some of the family because of the unclothed male statues in the background. I was small and was instructed to close my eyes or not look when the picture was brought out of the envelope. Now, I have to laugh about that. You can't see anything exposed in that picture. And, it looks to me, as if the statues all are wearing shorts! I can't help but wonder if some group that went around covering up the nudes in paintings and sculpture, didn't have a hand in covering up the men in these statues! Maybe they were made that way originially. I don't know. My uncle didn't seem to know if these were some of the famous Michaelangelo statues that we read about. He just knew that they were really big. Now that he is no longer living, I have a lot of questions, especially about his time overseas, and even about these statues.

I have been typing the letters that he wrote to my father during his time in service. And, I Have a lot of his pictures to go with them.

I did find some v-mail from him, some years ago, and, several times, he would say that he couldn't tell where they were. Sometimes the family could guess because of things he said about home. At a family dinner a few years ago, I said to him, "Now that the War is over, can you tell us where you were on.....?" And he started telling. I couldn't stay there to listen as someone called me to come help with something. I wish I had written all that down, now.

His sister had his name placed on the Veterans Memorial in Bryan. In civilian life, Irvin ran his father's dry goods store, worked in the Post Office, and had cattle. He was very active in community and church affairs during his life. Like others in our family, he remained single so he was close to another father figure for the two children in our family.

Great Uncle Eddie
Veteran of WWI
Family Photo NFS

This is a photo of my great uncle, Eddie. He was one of my grandfather's brothers. Eddie worked in his father's cobbler shop, then it became a grocery store. I don't know a whole lot about Eddie. He never married, like a lot of people in our family. He did serve in the U.S. Army during WWI. Someday, I would like to get his service record and find out about where he served. And, we need to have his name added to the Veterans Memorial in Bryan. His tombstone says that he was a private in the 3 Infantry.

Father in Aggie Uniform
Family Photo NFS

Oh how Daddy wanted to be in service during WWII. He kept trying, but they wouldn't take him. He still drilled with the men left in town, ready to serve and protect, if they were ever needed. I remember when he went off one day, walking to town and leaving the cars for Mama to use, to go in a truck with other potential recruits. I watched with my nose to the screen door, begging him not to go, tears running down my face, as he disappeared down the street, past the park. Mama went into her room and cried, then she got busy cleaning all day. I just wanted someone to go outside and make mudpies with to pass the time, fearing that I would never see Daddy again.

He was so disappointed to fail the physical. He was doing fine until they had the men run up and down stairs, carrying wooden crates of Coca Cola bottles. (He did that every day as he worked in Uncle Tom's grocery store, so he was sure there would be no problem.) But, after the exercise, the doctor rejected him with a heart murmer. He had been sick with Rheumatic Fever as a child.

The rest of the family was glad that he was staying at home, but Daddy still wanted to go, as most men did. Grandma, especially, was so upset over having Irvin overseas that she developed an ulcer. So, she sure didn't want another son in harms way. And, the older men needed him to help with the cattle and businesses. And, of course, we all just wanted him to be near. Our family stayed close to each other. He would have been happier if he had been able to go off with the other men.

I've added into my salute, the men who wanted to be veterans but couldn't go for various reasons.

Two WWII veterans who I know, are probably observing today. I don't see them often, but I do know a bit of the service of Margaret, an Army nurse, and her husband, Clarence, who was in the Air Force. Theirs is a love story that could be a WWII movie.

And there is Reba, who is deceased, and was also in the Army in WWII. She didn't have all the combat adventures, but did serve as a librarian. She published her diary before she died, and wrote many stories of the old families of Calvert for the local newspaper. She was able to live a full life. There are pictures of her in her book, "A Calvert Diary".
There were others from my home area, who I don't know that well. But all have their stories. Most did not seem to want to talk about their experiences and just went on, quietly, with their daily lives. A couple of them had limps that we would always associate with their wounds during the War. They might have been willling to talk, if I could have thought of questions to ask them. Someone should have done that before they were silenced in death.

We've lost many from that era. We certainly want to remember them all today, and the many others who served their countries.

Great Grandfather Miles
Family Tin Type NFS

This is another family veteran, this one in the U.S. Civil War, from Alabama, then Texas. He was a captain in the Confederate Army by the end of the War. He was in the 7th Texas Infantry. The son of an Alabama planter, he came to Texas with his new wife to farm in East Texas. We used to have his sword, and still have his clock, his Amnesty Oath, a tin type of his wife, Ellen, and some of his history in books. I also have the frame that this picture came from. I wish I could find a picture of him in his Civil War uniform. I may have to use this photo as a basis for a portrait.

I've wondered if these might have been wedding portraits. If so, they date to about 1853. I need to send for his service record, also, and hunt for his sword. But, that's another story.

I didn't actually know anyone who served in Viet Nam. Some of the boys from our school went to the Korean War, but I've not seen any of them long enough to hear any of their stories. I didn't know them that well. Some students went into service while I was still teaching, and I was so relieved when they came home and were alright. Some, in more recent years have gone into service, but I have not heard from them. We just hope that they all come home to their families, safely when their job is done and our country secure.
When I was growing up, one of the things I wanted to be was a flight nurse, thanks to the Cherry Ames books! I even made myself a dress for homemaking class that resembled one that Air Force nurses wore. (I was better at designing clothes, than making them! Not nearly enough patience.) I was too young to get into nursing school after high school. By the time I was old enough, I decided that chemistry was too hard for me, and maybe I had better stick to art. So there went my career as a flight nurse. I still liked to take care of people, though. I was probably better at doing that. I kept trying, though, and always returned to art and teaching. That is until I realized that I didn't have the strength or energy to be a nurse anymore.

Be sure to look in my sidebar under Authors and Artists and click on Esther Read. She has written a book with stories about Hispanic WWII vets. Her book is "After the Blessing".

I hope that you have been able to go out and observe today, and honor veterans in some way. As we look forward,now, to Thanksgiving, it is certainly a time to give thanks for all we have, and for our veterans, of yesterday and today, and to do what we can for those who are still here, and for those who are still serving for us.
Thank you, Vets! Hope it is a great day for you! And I hope you enjoy the old photos today. There is art in them, the promise of more art work to come, and then there are those statues from Rome, which are certainly works of art.
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Laura Brittain said...

What a special tribute to the veterans in your family! My grandmother was an army nurse (we lost her almost 2 years ago). My grandfather was an Army engineer and they met on a ship going from the European theater to the Pacific Theater and got married when they arrived in the Philippines. They were married for over 40 years ... we lost my grandpa 21 years ago to cancer. I had a great uncle killed in WWII, too. That's as far back as I know about service in the military. Boy, did my grandparents have some stories about the terrible and wonderful things they experienced. Anyway, thanks again for sharing. I need to get back with you about your e-mail you sent. I've been busy and sick. Things are slowing down a little though and I'm almost back 100%. Take care and happy Veteran's Day.

Cecelia said...

Thanks, Laura! You have some wonderful stories in your family. I hope that you write those down! Glad you are feeling better. I look forward to hearing from you.