I hope everyone saw my Sunday afternoon blog
. I'm still disgusted.
The day I went to the ER (June 2012), I had spent that morning burying what had been my last living relative with active WWII service. My great-uncle Ray Moore served aboard the USS Aries
in both the Atlantic and Pacific theater. He was facing the inevitable invasion of Japan when we dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Some 50 years after those events, I met the pilot of "Bock's Car", an airman from Lowell, Massachusetts by the name of Charles Sweeney. I indeed said thank you.)
Although not a debate about the bomb today, my uncle got to live to be 90 and helped put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon (and saved Jim Lovell and the crew of Apollo 13, too) because he didn't
have to invade Japan
Like most veterans, he spoke very little about his wartime service. Uncle was always ready to tell us stories about his days with Draper Labs and working with the Apollo program, but getting anything about his days at sea was often a struggle. It was only at his funeral that I learned that he probably saved his ship one day. According to what I was told, an anti-aircraft gun crew was completely wiped out, and he took over the gun and shot down a kamikaze headed for his ship. I haven't been able to corroborate it yet, but I will hunt down those action reports someday.
Uncle was not buried alongside his brothers in a veteran's cemetery. Instead, he was buried alongside his wife, and more of my uncles and aunts in a quiet cemetery in Melrose, Massachusetts. Being thrifty, depression survivors, all the families bought adjoining plots long before the necessary events so that they wouldn't have to worry about 'final expense'.
But I have relatives buried at the veteran's cemetery in Bourne, MA. My cousin "Sonny" served, but only as a musician in an official Navy band. Another uncle drove a landing craft at Okinawa. He too is buried next to his wife in a civilian cemetery.
It's from my father's side of the family that I have a relative buried in the most hallowed ground. A Filipino uncle served with the US military in both WWI and WWII, and likes beneath the groves in Arlington.
This column is generally about our living veterans, and the challenges that they face on a daily basis. I've written about it before - how we treat our war dead is no less important.
As for those that would desecrate and denigrate those who served, I would argue that they shouldn't be prosecuted or punished. Instead, they should go through basic training at Parris Island. But everybody else should know why they're there and what they did.