Sunday, May 28, 2006
Being the friendly sort Tex and Olive would always invite me in for a chat. Being the friendly sort myself, I always accepted the invitation. Almost every visit included Tex relating his experiences as a infrantyman in World War II. Although I was nearly 40 when I first met Tex, I never had any real understanding of the experiences of war.
Serving in North Africa under Patton, Tex saw his buddies ground into the sand my German tanks that would stop over a foxhole, reverse one tread and spin in place until it had ground the soldiers in the foxhole into the dirt. He said he could still hear his fellow soldiers screams. From the inflection of Tex's voice, I knew he did.
Tex fought in many battles and eventually lost half of a leg in the Battle of Monte Cassino at the Rapido River in Italy. This was especially difficult injury for Tex as he had been a star basketball player in high school. Coincidentally, one of my sister's father-in-law was captured by the Germans in the same battle.
Tex died a few years ago. He had survived to be mayor of the small town where he lived. A street now bears the name "McDonald." But his memory, although I only knew him for a short time, lives on in the stories he told me. Greater than the actual details of battles and events was the emotion in his voice. His experiences as a soldier left left an impact still visible after nearly 50 years.
Then I think of all the millions of men and women who sacrificed for this country and the world. Except for a very few, they were ordinary people like Tex who showed extraordinary courage and determination.
This goes back to the Revolutionary War, to George Washington and his troops. Perhaps there has never been a braver, more inspired group in history. Washington and his wealthy, powerful cohorts had much to lose and little to gain materially. The troops only had dreams and hopes of freedom and self-determination and nothing but their lives to give for it. They pitted themselves against the greatest power in the world and won.
Let us never forget to offer our gratitude and to carry on their mission.
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