Sunday, May 26, 2013

A couple of generations have passed, has our appreciation? Part I

Part I (see Part II in next post with you tube video) I felt it necessary to honor those who have died for our freedom and honor those who survived the wars that we sometimes forget as costly. We get comfortable in our small town luxuries and unless we have a direct family member in the military, we become distanced from the pain of a loved one gone or away from home.

I was painfully reminded at the Dollar General, a few weeks ago, that there was a price paid for my freedom.  There was an elderly gentleman walking around the store, greeting everyone with a smile.  He paid particular attention to my daughter who's 18 months old.  He was very sweet and verbally acknowledged us.  Contrary to this generation, he made eye contact with me and my kids and spoke with southern friendliness and long forgotten conversation. All of this, of course, without any distracting media devices.  He stopped to make sure we had time to return the friendly gesture. What a friendly little man and what a memory returned of grandparents and the lifestyle of days forgotten.

We wandered around the store and we went past the gentleman again and he spoke directly to Livia.  He said, "Are you looking at my stick?" She was curiously trying to figure out what he was holding and if he was going to give it to her.  He said something after that that I'll never forget, yet at the time I just laughed as if he was joking about something that might have been from an old traditional saying.  He said, "I've got to have this cane, because I have a limp in my leg.  They tried to blow me out of the fox hole."
"Oh, my goodness" I said and chuckled.  I told the kids to tell the man goodbye as he commented on how sweet the kids were.  He just lingered there in the store, talking to people and not really in any hurry to get his shopping list done.  We kept seeing him around the store and as I focused in on what had just been said, it hit me like a ton of bricks. The flashback of seeing his hearing aid and the fact it was on the same side as the limping leg jolted my emotions.  Wow. This man is alive, who was almost dead, and he did it for me.  He did it for the boys and girls who would come in future generations, the thousands of children born who would benefit from his sacrifice.  I realized I should have shook his hand, hugged him and told him of the appreciation I had, but I was too busy to realize what was going on.  Too scatterbrained to honor him and listen to his story.  I took for granted that as he saw my children, he was remembering the pain he survived, the fight he endured and all he had in mind as he valued the life of my children.  What a privilege that  he has lived to talk about his experiences and see the rewards for his efforts. 
Too often we take for granted the legacy built by men just like him, who did not make it through the wars and often forgotten.  We often see just an old man with nothing to do but stand around and talk, yet he was savoring every moment of his life he has been given.  I just wish I could have told him what he deserved to hear, I wish I would have had the time to sit and ask questions and just say "thank you is not enough, you are a hero".

I need to give honor to my own grandfather, who is still alive today, whom  I call 'Papaw'.  He  trained in the Marine Unit when he was 17 1/2 in 1948 summer camp in the15th Infantry Battalion at Fair Park, Little Rock, AR.  He married my grandmother on February 12, 1949 and while on duty, she delivered their first child and arrived at the hospital via a taxi.  Meanwhile, he was officially active in the Marine Core Reserves in 1950-1952 during the Korean war.    When he was called to action, he was on leave to tend to family duties and learned that he would soon be deported to Korea.  He sold all his personal items and said goodbye to his family and wife.  He was told he would be deported the next day to wait for the phone call to go and was told to be packed and ready for service.  He stayed up until 10:30 that evening on the base in Oceanside, CA on camp Pendleton, waiting.  He went to the O.D. the next morning and he asked what was going on, why the delay.  They responded with an answer he least expected.  They told him that he had been replaced with a younger man, whose last name was Colson.  Colson's father was a marine officer and was already in Korea.  They chose the single man who did not have a family and was willing to take papaw's place.  He is not sure if any returned from Korea that were called to duty that day.  He said it was a sure hand of God that kept him safe and I am so thankful he did. I would not be here if it was not for this amazing event.  He remained in the 7th tank battalion driving the supply trucks for the remainder of his service.  He was officially released in 1952.Here is a statement from Encyclopedia:Vietnam was the longest war for Marines; by its end, 13,091[49][50] had been killed in action, 51,392 had been wounded, and 57 Medals of Honor had been awarded.[51][52] Due to policies concerning rotation, more Marines were deployed for service during Vietnam than World War II.[53]

  He says he remembers his training in the snow and ice.  He talked about the details of how they trained to dig their own fox holes and he informed me of what it was like to operate mortar shells.  He explained how when those men in the fox holes tried to escape the horizontal bullets, they were attacked from the air with the accurate mortar explosives.

My grandfather had a brother, Samuel Hogue, who served in WWII for 3 years in the Navy, guiding supply ships overseas in the South Pacific.  He also had two brother-in-laws, his older sisters' husbands, who were in supply ships travelling mostly to Guam and were almost sunk twice.  They made it back home safely and on is still alive and the other died of natural causes.  To those who have died for the cause, your sacrifice will not be forgotten.  I am ever thankful for the courage and dedication for others freedom and protection.
I would also like to honor my uncle, Col. Phillip Hogue at Camp Robinson.  His active service is amazing and appreciated. (more pics coming as approved)

Please feel free to write your thoughts here, I'd love to read them!
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