Conducting the graveside service at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery yesterday reminded me again of how grateful I am to those who have served our nation in the military. And while I include all vets in that statement, I am especially grateful to those who served in WW2. We as a nation are losing them by the thousands every day. But that generation -- both those who fought against Hitler and Imperial Japan, as well as those who remained at home -- were perhaps, as Tom Brokaw labeled them, "The Greatest Generation."
My 2nd-cousin led a fighter squadron in the Pacific. Prior to that, he was in flight training in May of 1944, when he was given a leave. He came back to Fort Worth and told his sweetheart that he wanted to elope. He said he just wanted to make sure that they were married before he "got his wings." He said they would tell no one, and they could have a church wedding later. So, they eloped.
They then went straight from the JP's to his parents' house, where he said, "Dad, I have some news for you." His dad said, "Son, I have news for you, too. But you go ahead." Lawrence said, "Doris and I just got married." His dad said, "That's fine. But your leave has been cancelled."
So, he had to return to flight training immediately, and they did not even see each other again until November. They never got their church wedding -- especially after Doris' parents found out about their eloping. And their marriage lasted only 61 years.
Stories like these were common during that period of history. Newlyweds went years without seeing each other. The sacrifices both on the battlefield and at home are beyond our current generations' collective imaginations.
So as "Taps" was being played yesterday, I thanked God again for these wonderful people. I have been allowed the luxury of living in the shade of their sacrifices. And I am grateful.