The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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November 11, 2013

Local World War II Army veteran turns to writing in retirement



Not everyone forgets

By William E. Himes

I know it’s early November. It must be near Veterans Day. It is usually very quiet here, but there seems to be a lot more activity lately.

About the only thing we ever hear is the sound of the guy cutting the grass or maybe the commotion connected with the arrival of a new buddy.

A few days ago a guy from one of the veterans posts placed a bronze holder at my head with a little flag, just as they do on Memorial Day.

I guess you get used to the quiet after awhile. I haven’t been here as long as some of the guys. I was one of the lucky ones who came back safely and in one piece. I got to marry, raise a family and live to a ripe old age. In fact it was just old age that got me.

Joe, two plots over, has been here for a long time. He caught a piece of shrapnel on a bombing run over Berlin in 1944. The crew made it back to England and they were able to ship what was left of him back to his mother in the States.

Jerry, down below there hasn’t been here long. A land mine got him in Iraq just two years ago. I think Mike over on the left got his in Vietnam. I’m not sure.

I don’t get many visitors. Most of my family and friends are either dead or live so far away that they never get back here. When they used to come to town it was to see me. There’s no need for that now. I can understand that.

Some of the other guys around me used to get visitors now and then, but hardly anyone ever comes anymore. It seems that at first everyone is concerned, but as time goes on they forget.

Thank goodness there are some groups that don’t forget. The guys in the VFW and American Legion always get here to show their respect. They are getting old, too. Some of them have come on walkers and one guy was in a wheelchair, but they come. I don’t know how some of them continue to do it.

They pledge allegiance to the flag and somebody plays “Taps.” That always gets to me. I have to get out my handkerchief to blot my nose, but otherwise I’m fine.

Yesterday there was a speaker who had a very nice talk. I heard most of it. He basically was thanking all of us for putting down aggression and saving the world from disaster at one time or another.

He especially reminded everyone that without the sacrifices made by so many of us, they would not be enjoying the freedom that most people take for granted today. All of us involved made the sacrifice of several years of our lives and many made the ultimate sacrifice.

One thing he said really impressed me. He said that we didn’t lose what we sacrificed. Rather we gave that portion of ourselves to our country as payment for the privilege of living in a free society. I never really thought of it that way before.

I’m not sorry that I sacrificed a part of my life for my country when it needed me. I just never thought of it as a gift to my country given in return for the good life that I enjoy as a member of this country.

I suppose everything will become quiet again now that the celebrations and parades are over.

When you go by a memorial park even if you don’t stop in, think of us and say a little “thank you” prayer for your freedom.

Be assured that freedom is not free. In fact it is very costly, but someone whom you probably don’t even know paid the price for you.

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