by Corrin Strong
Clarion News Service.
For the first time in many years, I did
not attend the Memorial Day observance in Geneseo on Monday. My sister Sarah was
celebrating her 40th birthday, and family duty called me away to Connecticut.
I missed the pageantry, and the opportunity to be a part of this uniquely small
town ritual. In towns across Livingston County, Memorial Day is one of the few
times of the year when the whole community comes out to mingle.
many are drawn by the sounds and sights of the parade, there is of course a deeper
message. To hear the rifles' salutes and the mournful playing of taps, is to be
transported across time to the living memory of great battles.
now, the line of World War Two soldiers grows thinner, their ranks replaced by
veterans of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. Soon there will be no one left to
stand as testimony to that horrible time.
Recently my daughter Mary Alice
was given the homework assignment of interviewing a WW II-era veteran. Naturally,
I suggested my good friend Bill Bruckel, who did a tour of duty in the Pacific
as an officer on a submarine.
For over an hour, we sat spellbound as Bill
rattled off the facts and figures of that time now over half a century past. Despite
a few harrowing incidents, including mistakenly being fired on by an American
destroyer, Bill came home in one piece to start a career in the law. His eyes
clouded over, when he remembered the many friends who had not.
I was curious
to see how my daughter would handle this material. These are not easy issues to
get a hold of. What finally came through in Bill's account was the triumph of
the human spirit.
Despite the stupid brutality of war, and the capriciousness
of fate, people will struggle on to survive and plan for a life afterwards. Bill
chose the sub service because he figured that there was less chance he would come
The way he had it figured, he would either come home in one
piece or not at all. On the basis of such gruesome calculations were young men's
lives determined in that time.
I pray my children and grandchildren will never
have to make such a fearsome choice, and that collective wish is why we continue
to come out for Memorial Day Observances.
Even when the current generation
of soldiers has answered their final roll call, we must never forget the horrors
of war. We owe that to their memory.
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