By Mark Pearson
75 years ago remembered, at least by this guy.
One afternoon as I was listening to a radio talk program, the host was interviewing a lady that heads up an organization called Forever Young Vets. Her mission was to provide funds and set up itineraries so WWII Vets could go back to the places in Europe where they served in hopes that they may find some closure by revisiting those places. She told of a vet who fought in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. He was defending a family there before being captured and going on to spend the next seven months of his life as a prisoner courtesy of the German Army.
His trip is being paid for by this organization so he can go visit one of the children that remembered him and who still lives in the same house where he fought and was captured.
Another vet who served in France fell in love with a French girl but, because of circumstances, they never got the chance to marry. He came home, got married and has children, but his wife passed away a few years back. He found out that this French lady had similar experiences and her husband has also passed away.
He will get the chance to spend four days with her.
The reason why is Forever Young Vets have put together a tour of over 100 vets scheduled to go back to France and Belgium to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of that and other famous battles. They are going in September as they wanted to miss the cold. I guess that once is enough for vets who are now in their 80s and 90s to want to avoid reliving that part of their memory.
What is so sad about the way this major interruption that occurred for so many young people 75 years ago, is how it is not being remembered for the brave heroes, especially those from this county who are not being honored or the way those events are not even being commemorated.
For example, back in May, the St. Clair County Library Association sent out a flier to everyone who has a mailing address within the county. This flier consisted of a calendar of events and displays that were being highlighted during the summer at the main library here in Port Huron and supposedly the branch libraries as well.
There was nothing listed that commemorated anything about the war or any mention that the war even took place. I personally was upset about this and let some of the library’s employees know it. I even called the administrator in charge of the libraries and brought it to her attention. Her reply was that she would take the subject up at the next meeting of the branch managers. I went into the main library on the 6th of June and the only thing that was being displayed were several books and posters dealing with “vote for women.”
It seems that with all the WWII Vets who have lived and grew up in this county, some who are still alive and those who gave their full measure during that war, ought to be remembered and honored by a tax-supported and frequently visited entity. How about the children and grandchildren of those same vets?
I think that it would have been appropriate for that same entity whose very existence and supplied employment is paid for by those same tax-paying relatives who may still remember an uncle or a nephew who served in that war regardless of which branch of the service they were in.
I knew a few of the great men that I still remember. My wife had an uncle who was wounded at Anzio in Italy; he died before I got the chance to meet him. I still have his photograph and several patches from his uniform along with a flag displayed in his honor. I knew a soldier named Clark Armstead who fought in that green hell known as the Hurtgen Forrest and up to the day he died suffered greatly from his experiences.
On August 25, 1944, Paris was liberated. Were there many vets from this county who marched in that parade down the Champs Elysees and through the Arc De Triomphe on that day? Does anyone know, does anyone care? I have often looked at the faces of those men in that famous photo and wondered how many of those men wouldn’t be alive within the next month. In the middle of this month 75 years ago paratroop landings took place to capture bridges across the Rhine River in Holland in hopes of quickly ending the war in Europe. Will there be anything on the news about this campaign? Probably not!
In December, the last offensive put up by the Germans was stopped in the battle that I first mentioned. Again, were there any brave vets from this county involved in that struggle? Does anyone know? Does anyone care?! It appears to me that the St Clair County library doesn’t care. I am not writing this to shame anyone, but credit and honor should be given where credit and honor are due.
I have not forgotten the brave military personnel from all branches of the service who served in the Pacific and fought the Japanese. I know that there must be many from this county who served there.
And please remember all those who served here at home. My father-in-law and mother-in-law both worked for Mueller Brass and though I don’t know exactly what they did there, I do know that this company was involved in making shell casings for ammunition. I also know that there is plenty of honors to go around for all those who served and all the people whose lives were turned upside down as a result of this war.
75 years is a long time ago but is still worth remembering and all those entities, whether government or private, should take it upon themselves to show that they still do remember.
Mark E. Pearson was born and raised in Kansas City, Mo. In 1970 he moved to Michigan where he met and married the girl of his dreams, Mary Lou Davis, together they have two sons. He attended Briercrest Bible Institute in Saskatchewan, Canada, and later received his associate’s degree in business from St. Clair Community College. He was a bookkeeper and worked in retail sales for 30 years and has spent the last fifteen years as a Jeweler at Coughlin’s Jewelers in St Clair, MI. He is a voracious reader of history and as a result of being an avid reader, he began to write short stories and articles for editorial columns and magazines on current events and comparing and relating past events to current happenings.