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Memorial Day Weekend

Recently I've been researching my father's Korean War experiences as part of a project to get a grave marker for him, and even though he did tell us some hair-raising stories before he died (when my sister and I were adults), I'm finding out more things that make me sad but very proud of my father's service. He was 17 when he joined the U.S. Army in February of 1952 and was shipped over to Korea in early 1953. He took part in battles such as Old Baldy and Pork Chop Hill (the 1959 movie of the same name starring Gregory Peck is exemplary), and he was a Purple Heart survivor. He was able to watch M*A*S*H* and point out what was realistic and what wasn't, having spent time in a unit as a patient. He became the youngest First Sergeant in the Korean theater of operations and later volunteered for jump school to become a paratrooper.

My father was of that World War II/Korean War generation who came back from the war, returned to civilian life and started a family while quietly dealing with his PTSD (known then as battle fatigue). I understand him better now after my research and wish that he could have been spared the nightmares and survivor's guilt, but that's the world we live in, unfortunately.

The Korean War is often referred to as The Forgotten War, which angers me no end. A war and its veterans should NEVER be forgotten and shunted aside. The war began on June 25, 1950, five years after the end of World War II, and a lot of the veterans called back up were resentful of having to run the gauntlet again after surviving World War II. Stories like the case of Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox were examples, as once again a considerable chunk of his baseball prime years were lost to service (he was a jet ace during the Korean War and was John Glenn's wingman). Others had begun to build lives after the last war and were interrupted once again for a dirty little war that sorely tried skills, patience and faith. Talking with some of the people helping me with the grave marker, I discovered that military people considered Korea an unusually grim and horrific war, even as wars go.

During this weekend of vacation and barbecues and fun, please take a moment to reflect and thank those who came before us to fight our country's wars and who paid a great price for it.

Thank you.

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steve--diana (serious contemplation)
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