On this Veteran’s Day holiday, Americans pause to remember those who have served in her military. My father fought in the Army in Europe during World War II. Although he served as a private, he brought his camera with him. For obvious reasons, he didn’t take pictures during the actual fighting; he wasn’t a war correspondent!
When he returned to America, he brought back his pictures and the diary he’d kept while on active duty. The diary started in with a brief summary of basic training in Texas and really began during the Atlantic crossing to Marseilles, France. There is almost a daily record of his time from October 5, 1944 until his war’s end on May 8, 1945 when my father was in Schwaz, Austria. His diary is now printed as his book Combat Diary.
My nephew’s wedding this past September was held at a gazebo in one of Strongsville, Ohio’s parks where there is a bench commemorating my father. My sister, brother, and I had our picture taken as part of the celebration.
My father’s book is a piece of history written by an ordinary man. Several years ago, I bought copies so each of my children could have their own. It’s important that history not be just a memorization of dates, but also an understanding of how people experienced the upheaval and found the fortitude to keep going. Today, when America thanks her veterans, that’s one of the lessons we can take from their example of service.