Happy memorial day
May 24, 2017
For many across this country, this weekend signals the start of summer. There will be pool parties, cookouts, and trips to the beach to welcome the warmer weather and the lazier days that will follow. And while I enjoy all of those things, I wanted to take a moment to reflect upon the holiday and what it represents.
While I had no relatives who died fighting for, or serving our country, my uncle served in the 10th Mountain Division during WWII. At 17, he forged his grandfather’s signature and signed up shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He rarely talked about his military experience. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there were over 16 million members of the US Armed forces serving during WWII – as of 2016, there were only 620,000 left – my father is one of them. He is 94 years-old, and still of sound mind. He was the tail gunner in a B-52 Bomber. During an air raid on Munster, Germany, his plane was shot down. The only survivor, he found himself in the German-occupied Netherlands, where he avoided German collaborators and was eventually was taken in by the underground. He nearly died from an infection. And as he slipped in and out of consciousness, he kept having to try and prove he wasn’t a spy. He spent the next thirteen months in the underground, living with a family in Brussels, unable to join his division because he remained behind enemy lines. At the end of the war, when he was finally able to call his mother, she didn’t believe he could possibly still be alive.
The sacrifices these men and women, and their families, have made to protect us, our country, our freedoms, is beyond measure. While I hope you get time to relax this weekend, time to enjoy family and friends, please take a moment to think about those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.
Happy Memorial Day.
Anne Converse Willkomm
Director of Graduate Studies