Monday, May 31, 2010

Who Do You Remember on Memorial Day?

Originally uploaded by R.Friend
Today is a time for reflection, to honor and remember those who served, and those who are currently serving, to hope for peace and understanding, for all people to live together in this world and tolerate different ways, beliefs and styles.

My oldest memory of a soldier from our family is only through stories - Dad was a Civil War Buff, we spent a number of family vacations touring Washington DC and Civil War battlefields. (Looking back, I believe this helped him process his own traumatic stress disorder generated during his service in the Philippines in WWII.)---- Back to the original story. Several of Dad's stories included "Uncle Martin Elder" who served in a Federal Zuavie Regiment in the American Civil War. The specifics of the stories are lost somewhere in my head; at least the name of the man and Zuavie still sticks. Thanks to R.Friend on flickr for the opening photo of the Zuavie Memorial in Manassas Battlefield Park.

Frank recalls that either his grandfather Blesh or his grandfather's brother survived Andersonville.

WWI either took or disrupted the life of many young American men. My grandfather Edward J. Roe, thankfully never saw active fighting. He was on a ship to Europe when the war ended, the ship turned and came back home. The soldiers were mustered out only to find that the jobs they had before enlisting in the military were gone. Jobs were scarce, so many, such as Ed, were out of work. Those who had chosen to serve where not honored or welcomed on their return. Most of us don't realize that.
Edward Roe and me circa 1950

It only came to my awareness when spending time with Nellie (my grandmother, Ed's wife) in the mid-1990s. She was in her 90s as well, doing some reflection and processing. I had only know grandpa a few years - he died at age 56 in 1955 when I was 8 years old, remembering him so slightly asked many questions. I learned Ed had wanted to go into business, before enlisting he had acquired a bookkeeping position at the Railroad Roundhouse in Weston OH. He was devastated at being pushed aside and told there was no place for him since he left his job to go off to war. He looked for other business opportunities and found none. Being a farmer was not his first choice, indeed it seemed all that was open to him. He was intent on marrying Nellie and having a family. His father was willing to set him up with a farm, he accepted that offer, and moved there with Nellie about 1920.

There is more, remembering WWII - my Dad and many uncles, Onyx (Clarence Espen), Russell Haft, George Broughten served and made it back. Wilber whose last name I do not recall, a foster child raised by mother's parents was in the air force, killed on a flying mission over Germany. His picture hung in Grandma Chase's living room, a dapper dashing young man.

I do have more memories of stories about Dad and the Uncles. But will perhaps save those for next year.

In closing a shout out to cousin Alvin who served in Peacekeeping status in Korea in the 1970s. To cousin Ron Haft for service in Viet Nam. And to my own husband Frank who spent 3 years in Viet Nam in the late 1960s.

To those who have died - may you rest in peace.

To those still alive - may you live in peace.

Thank you all!

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