My dad, like yours, was the greatest guy in the world. He was the biggest, bravest, smartest, strongest,most generous, most gentle guy in the world . He was a Christian man and he attended church about every Sunday. Poppa had fought in the Second World War and had served as a combat veteran in the South Pacific theater of operation in the U.S. Navy. He was a proud, brave man and he never boasted about what he had done in the war. He would just say that he did what he was told to do and that he had defended his country against an enemy that wished to die. He said he helped many of them fulfill their wish.
Poppa was not a large man by today's standards. He was about five feet ten inches tall and he weighed about 170 pounds but there was no ''fat'' on him. He worked most of his adult life as a brick mason and he used his body every day. His arms and shoulders were very well developed as well as his legs. He was, as they use to say, ''very stout''.......
Poppa was always very soft spoken and I do not believe I ever heard him curse except when he was very angry he might say the ''S'' word. If he did lose his temper for some reason he would ask God to forgive him that night in his prayers.
In our house we had what was called a ''Family Alter''. It was not a ''real thing'' as such but we would all gather in mom and dads bed room at bed time and dad would read from the bible and explain to us the meaning of the verses or pages he read. Given this, poppa read most of the bible to us. I had a bible and I would read along with poppa and I also read the bible from cover to cover after a time. Poppa would read and explain and we would all thank the Lord for what we had. We would thank him for the blessing of a family and love and sharing and for the bounty He had given us. It was a wonderful time in the life of a small boy to have the sharing of family and the closeness it brings a person. I can still see us now with poppa sitting on the bed, granny in the rocker, mom on the cedar chest and me sitting on the floor with my dog listening to poppa read the Holly Bible.
It should be understood that poppa was a veteran of the war and he served in the combat zone from late 42 until the end of the war. He helped fight the Japanese and toward the end of the war they became more fanatical than ever and each and every one of them wanted to ''die for the emperor''..
This was one of the difficulties in fighting an enemy that wants to die. The only thing you can do is kill that enemy. If you will read history you will see that sometimes only a handful would surrender out of thousands and thousands that were involved in combat. In the early fifties we would sit and watch ''Victory at Sea'', a narrative about the war in the Pacific and poppa would sit and give me an eye witness account of a lot of the film they showed on that program. He would tell me about the atrocities of war and the total waste of war and how thousands died for an idea and an ideal that they lived by. He told me about seeing our Marines killed by machine gun fire and by guys that supposedly wanted to surrender and how they would come out in pairs yelling ''comrade, comrade'' and how the Marines would drop their guard and the guy in front would lean over and he would have a machine gun strapped to his back and the second guy would step behind and start mowing down Marines till they were both killed. How they would walk out of the jungle with their hands held high shouting ''comrade'', hiding a grenade in each hand with the pin pulled but holding the spoon down on the grenade. How they would walk into a group of Marines and drop the grenades killing and wounding the men. Poppa said that the Marines got to where they would only take a prisoner if he was necked with his hands open. Then they would let him surrender. Poppa told of atrocities he saw that the Japanese performed on the Marines they captured. Gouging out their eyes and maiming and torturing them and how the Marines got even with the Japanese for this practice. These are far to grim for this forum but you can believe me that their were atrocities in retribution against the Japanese that would make you sick to your stomach and my poppa seen a lot of them. Poppa said war created monsters on both sides. He said that here was no ''HONOR'' in war and no ''WINNERS'' in war...... Only victims of war. Nobody ''WINS'' anything and a lot of good men lose everything. Sometimes I would see tears in his eyes when he would open up and tell me some of the things he saw.
Poppa came home a changed man affected by the war he had been in. He came home a Christian man that was slow to anger unless you messed with his family. He would give you the shirt off his back and his last dollar if you asked and I have seen him forgive a debt rightfully owed to him by another ….... When people cheated him out of money he would always say that ''someday that person will have to face the Lord and the Lord will say to that person,'' ''Ye have done this unto one of my children so ye have done this unto me''.....''Depart from me Ye cursid, for I have never known ye''. And that person would be cast into hell forever.......
My poppa set an example for me to live by in his life and in his beliefs. He sat a ''standard'' for me to try to live up to in my life and like I have always said.........''I would not come up to his shoe tops as a man and I would not make a small pimple on his butt as a sailor.''
Now a days I think of my poppa a lot. I try to remember what he taught me about life and living and dieing and that life is but a moment in time and that we are all like tiny ripples in a giant ocean and what we do means little in the overall purpose of life. He taught me how to be true to a friend and the love of a family. He taught me about honesty to my fellow man and how you gain nothing by cheating your fellow man. He taught me that I should love my wife above all others and to be true to her and defend her with my life without hesitation. He taught me many things about being a man and doing right with my life and how to never be afraid and how to forgive an enemy or a person that done me wrong or cheated me and how to ask forgiveness for myself if I sin against God.
Yep, my poppa was the biggest, smartest, bravest, meanest, most generous, most God fearing most loyal man of men and I am so proud to be his son.
I would give all I own just sit at his feet and listen to him read the passages from the Bible one more time. Yep, I sure would...........
Nuff said I guess for now......
Thank a vet for our freedom........