Thursday, November 11, 2010

A coming home Veterans Day

November 11, 1968, 42 years ago today, was the last day of my two-year stint as a soldier in the U.S. Army. I flew home, greeted my family, and went on with my life. I was in the army during wartime, but never went to war. I was stationed in Germany. In the main I didn't sacrifice anything but a couple of years of my life.

On the other hand, a very special veteran came home yesterday, in time to be honored on Veterans Day. The story is told in my local paper this morning of George Willard Grismore, who was killed at age 30 in World War II, shot down in an airplane in which he was flying with five other men from Leyte to Mindanao to deliver fuel to Filipino guerrillas, and were never seen again.

George Willard Grismore

They weren't seen that is until their remains were found in 1999, at which time they were shipped to Hawaii for identification. They were taken to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command Central Identification Laboratory. This is a program that employs 600 people whose job it is to identify the remains of "the nearly 88,000 soldiers still missing from the various wars," according to the article by columnist Paul Rolly in this morning's Salt Lake Tribune. Rolly is the nephew of Grismore, who died three years before Rolly was born. Rolly provided DNA because identification is made through the mother's line.

Sixty-five years is a long time to be away from home, away from loved ones. Time has taken its toll, and many of Grismore's loved ones are now deceased. But survivors of Grismore were there in the early morning hours when Grismore's casket, decorated with an American flag, was delivered.

I'm often angry with my country over wars it fights for dubious reasons. I think the wars in Vietnam and Iraq are good examples of wars we should never have fought, but I'm never angry with the men and women who go to war. They have no choice. Most soldiers are like me. They do their time, then they come home and live the rest of their lives. Some are damaged, physically and mentally, and some come home in a casket draped with a flag.

Happy Veterans Day to all the people who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States past and present.

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