Monday, May 30, 2011

To Honor, To Remember

Happy Memorial Day!  Today we honor, celebrate, and remember those who have, and those who are serving our nation.  Today we take the time out of our hectic lives to give thanks for each and every one of them.  I know that there are many in my family who I will be thinking about, and honoring today.

My Great Uncle Nick, who lost his life during World War II.  He was the only son in a family of women.  My great grandfather abandoned the family during the depression, leaving my immigrant great grandmother to raise the children on her own.  He became the man of the house, leaving for the Civilian Conservation Corps to help contribute when there were no jobs to be had.  My grandmother, his sister, never spoke much about his loss, and I know it devastated them.  I remember many Memorial Days/Easter Sundays/Thanksgivings and other holidays where we would make the trip to his grave site to leave flowers.  He is still remembered.  

My Grandpa Ereth.  He served as a sailor on the USS Miami in World War II.  The photographs of a ornery young man in his football uniform, transitioned into a ornery young man in his navy uniform.  He never spoke much about his service, but faithfully attended reunions until his health prohibited it.  I cannot imagine how frightening it must have been, to a teenaged and young twenty-something man from Akron, Ohio to sit on board the ship and see kamikaze fighters coming straight for them.  Men such as my grandfather simply slay me.

My Grandpa Wronkovich.  He served in the army during World War II.  I know that he was part of D-Day 6.  As a child, I stumbled across a myriad of small photographs of a concentration camp that his unit uncovered near the end of the war.  He documented those that they found in the camp.  It both frightened me and made me proud that my grandfather was part of a group of men who helped to liberate the camp.  He never told me where it was, as many in his generation-he was a man of few words.  They simply did what they had to do and came home.

My Grandma Wronkovich.  No, she didn't don a uniform.  She didn't fly a plane.  Yet each day she pulled on a pair of coveralls over her pretty clothes, tied a kerchief over her thick brown hair, eschewed makeup, and headed into the factory to help the defense department win the war.  My grandma was a Rosie the Riveter during World War II in Akron, Ohio.  She was a little woman, and very athletic, so she was tasked with the job of reading meters three stories up the machine in the factory.  She was also quick, and would be given the job of "pace setter" for the shift each day.  She took great pride in her work during that time, as we do in her today.

Now I am proud to say I have a stepson-in-law who is serving us in the United States Navy.  He returned from deployment this past winter and we couldn't have been prouder of the work he has done.  We do worry for his safety, but trust he will always do what needs to be done.  We are so blessed to have him as a part of our family.  

Take some time today to think about, and to thank the service men and women in your life.  I could go on and name the former students of mine who I know are stationed near and far, the classmates of mine, and more.  But know that you are all in my thoughts and prayers daily.  Happy Memorial Day everyone, and most especially to our service men and women!

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