I posted this on Memorial Day at the bottom of a review.
Since my father was an Army corporal who landed at Normandy on Day 1, I thought I would memorialize him by repeating the story in its own post.
I come from a small family. No brothers. No uncles. No cousins. And I am only second generation in this country.
So the only person I can pay homage to is my late father. He passed away at age 80 in 2003.
He was an Army corporal. He landed at Normandy on D-Day 1.
He also spent two years in France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany.
When I was young, my father told me stories of WWII. I was enthralled.
Of course, he hid the horrors he experienced, or saw, from my tender ears.
As I got older, he began to tell me more. He seemed to be ashamed of himself in some of those stories. Things he did and took part in. Things that always happen in a war on the ground.
My dad was wounded and sent home. He got shot in the chest by a .50 cal machine gun from a German nest that his group stormed. He was very lucky to have survived. It went clear through; very close to his heart and missed every vital organ and artery.
My father received the Bronze Star with 2 clusters. And he received the Purple Heart.
As a young boy, I became cognizant of the bullet hole in his chest. The one in front was small. But his back was a mess. A huge map of scar tissue. I remember asking him if it hurt and he would only shake his head no.
As the years turned into our involvement in Viet Nam, my dad shut up. He no longer wanted to tell any type of war story. My dad was a Republican. Voted for Nixon which shocked me…me, the child of the 60’s.
But he hated war. He knew from experience that this “Viet Nam thing” was not an honorable war. This wasn’t a fascist despot taking over a continent by force and violence. This was not an honorable war cooked up by evil politicians. He was very vocal about this.
He never talked about his medals. Never. But he liked to talk about the bullet that nearly killed him and how his son lost it forever.
I was around 4 years old, got into a drawer in his dresser, and found the bullet.
I played with it, got bored and no one knows what happened after that, except it was gone.
For 54 years, my father told everyone that would listen how his only son lost his bullet.
My father refused to watch WWII movies. When “Saving Private Ryan” came out, he refused to watch it. I didn’t get it until then. Private Ryan was probably the most realistic movie about war made in his lifetime.
When I tried to talk to him about it, he would say nothing. So I let it go.
It was then that I realized how deeply the war affected him. It was no longer funny stories about crazy things that happened on that journey. He never spoke about the war again.
I always knew my father was a hero.
And so is every American that served or still serves.
He managed to survive one of the most brutal frontal attacks in American history.
I can only imagine the nightmares that brave man had.
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