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  • Writer's pictureJames

The End Of An Era

My father’s cousin called the other day. His father, my great-uncle, passed away at 92. He and his wife lived out in the country, where he still drove out to the casino, still worked out daily, and always carried his sidearm in case of pest problems. Hank was a World War II veteran. He fought in the first wave in Germany.

There are only a few of them left. My grandpa Hank and my grandpa Herbert were also from that era, but they got out before the United States went up against the Axis powers in Europe. I admire them. The Axis powers were looking to take over the whole world under communism, and the Allied powers stood against their conquest. The United States and its allies did end up defeating the axis and freeing the remaining Jewish people from the concentration camps.

My co-worker, who is 81, mentioned how James Hard, one of the last civil war veterans, passed away in Rochester, New York in 1953; when my co-worker was a boy. Many of your confederate leaders are having their statues torn down these days by angry mobs who want them wiped from history, but the American Civil War was also fought over states rights. The northern union states were united under a uniform government, but the southern confederates wanted to govern themselves. And so President Lincoln’s forces won the war, united the country as one, and freed the slaves. Recently, Robert E Lee’s statue was torn down in Virginia. The problem is, Lee was a brilliant general and patriot for his state, and he fought to defend it. We don’t see the full story behind these people from long ago.

The Civil War and WWII are the two major eras people remember from history class, with significant accomplishments, and while one generation is completely gone, save for a few immortals, the latter is on its way out…

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Every week, Sam makes it to church. He is also a World War II veteran, and one of the last ones I know of. I used to enjoy listening to his stories with the battleship Missouri and the Japanese surrender. We praise these veterans for defending our freedom, but unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer veterans from this era. Sam is 95 and doesn’t say much anymore, but he used to tell me how he cherishes today for he isn’t promised tomorrow.

As of January 2018, Sam is still here.

As of February 2019, Sam is still here.

I was in a class in college when we wrote letters to WWII and Korean War Veterans who were coming back from a trip with Honor Flight. I think most of that group ranged in age from their late 80s to late 90s, all with various extents of mobility. I enjoyed watching the honor flight video because it allowed these veterans to share their stories, but I grew up with that. We are losing hundreds of them by the day, and over the next few years, the rest will pass away. The video logs will be all we have left to look at. For now, I praise the time each of us has left on this earth.

– James –

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