Memorial Day … a day to remember

Eagle-Gary Morris

There are 46,551 brush strokes in the painting, each stroke represents one American soldier that did not come home from Vietnam.

Painted by Gary Morris, Lt Col USMC.       Vietnam Vet

Memories cloud my mind today of the men in my family who served in the armed forces. We were one of the fortunate families, they all came home. Others weren’t so blessed. Walking home from school during World War II, I watched the windows of the homes I passed. My heart sank each time I saw a gold star had replaced a blue one; that meant the serviceman from that home had been killed. Life changed in the moment someone opened the door and looked in the face of the person delivering that dreaded telegram. And I remember…

I watched the newsreels at the movie theater and will never forget the horrors of face-to-face combat. Etched in my mind is the day the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and the pictures that came back to the United States showing people whose skin was literally falling off their faces. And I remember…

My grandfather, Eldon Lowrey, was a foot soldier in France during World War I. He told stories about marching behind the men on horseback till he thought his legs would drop off. He said they had to keep up with the horses. He was especially fond of telling about the time a Frenchman stopped his wagon and invited some of them to hop on and ride a while. He developed a love of champagne while he was in France. His doctor became his dearest friend when he prescribed one glass of wine every evening. About once a month, he would ask us to get him one bottle of champagne for medicinal purposes. He kept it in the garage because my grandmother didn’t approve of any alcoholic beverages and would not have it in the house. We tried to convince him that it went flat after opened and that some of the other wines would hold better, however, nothing would do but champagne, no matter how flat! He was a special man, my grandfather. And I remember…

My first husband, Bill Kerss, served in the Korean War, but never saw combat. As a G-2 agent stationed at the News Center in Kansas City, his top-secret status didn’t allow him to share with me what he did or where he went on when he was away. During the 1950s nothing could be released to the newspapers, radio, or television until it had official clearance from the military. Security was tightly controlled. His service here in the states didn’t feel much different from having a regular job—except for wearing the Army uniform and when he was away on missions. We enjoyed our time in Missouri, but were glad to get back to Texas. My childhood sweetheart, friend, lover, and father of my daughters died in 1977. And I remember…

I’m thinking, too, about my brother-in-law, Ernest Lueck, who was wounded in Korea, but always felt lucky that he got to come home. Many didn’t. I remember one of the Christmases he was there when the family packed a metal trash can filled with presents for him. It was full of warm clothing, food and treats. This happy, laughing man lived until 2010. And I remember…

Today, thoughts of my second husband, Ray Groezinger, are particularly intense. The stories he used to tell me are flooding my mind. He was not quite eighteen when World War II started in the 1930s. America was not yet in it. He tried to go to Canada with some of his buddies to enlist in the Canadian Armed Forces, but his mother would not sign the papers for him. As soon as he became of age, he and a couple of his friends signed up, America was now in the war. They were sent to Pensacola, Florida for flight training. It was very different in those early years, they signed up with the stipulation they could resign at will. Try that one today! They were trained to fly open cockpit planes. These three friends formed a life-long love of flying.

The right to resign sounds impossible today, but that is exactly what they did. They wanted to get into the action, to be in actual combat. Leaving Pensacola behind, they went to Twenty-nine Palms, Arizona, where they enlisted a second time and signed on as officers and flight instructors. Once again their attempt to see action was foiled, and they were held in Arizona. There were very few instructors, and this was where they were needed. I have to mention that Ray wore the uniforms of the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy! These three guys could sit for hours telling and retelling the stories of that time, however, they never got over their regrets about having to stay stateside. After the war was declared over, Ray and his friends were sent to Denison, Texas, where they checked out returning pilots who had been prisoners of war. Some of the returnees were able to pass the tests and recertify as pilots, others could not. My dear Ray, friend, traveling companion, and loving husband died in 2011. And I remember…

I usually share Memorial Day with my cousin, Gary Morris, a Marine and veteran of Vietnam. We have dinner together and watch television. We don’t talk much about war; however it’s on both our minds. We talk mostly about baseball and the Texas Rangers. He carries many scars, both visible and invisible. He went to Vietnam a happy, laughing young man and came home with a sadness and pain that has never left him, scars of the mind. The two of us are the oldest in our families, the last holdouts of our generation, it is a bittersweet day as he remembers those who did not return home.  And we remember…

It’s important to remember on Memorial Day not only those who died, but the ones who returned home. Most of them carry scars, some visible, others invisible, and some never heal. From the time our nation was formed, from World War I to the wars of today in Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan, it’s important to remember why men go to war, it is for the right of all men to live free. It’s important to recognize this today and honor that sacrifice, to say thank you to these brave warriors who served so you and I can live in a free country.

It’s important to pay attention to what is going on in our country today and to stand up to those who want to change America to be like other countries of the world where people are not free. It’s important to know the principles on which our country was founded, not just to know them, but to oppose those who want to change them.

It’s important to realize that political rhetoric is just “campaign talk,” not necessarily what the person believes or intends to do, but is only said to get elected. What politicians promise and actually do are two entirely different things, and they don’t often coincide. How sad this loss of integrity is. Look to the years behind them, what they have supported and not supported, their values and morals, their business ability, do your homework and ignore the emotional rhetoric.

It’s important to realize that all the freedoms we take for granted are slowly being eroded in the miasma of political correctness and politicians who are only there to feed their own egos.

It’s important to enforce the laws of America. They are there for a reason, not to harm, but to protect and preserve the freedoms of American citizens. It’s important to welcome all who come into our country legally and stop supporting those who come illegally.

Study and learn about the price your ancestors paid for the freedom America has enjoyed. Learn about the founding fathers of our country, what they believed, and the reasons they came and settled this country. The cost was great. Then pay attention to the world today, to the erosion of the morals and values that all these valiant men and women fought for and are still fighting for.

The gauntlet has been thrown down. The freedoms of the American people are slowly being taken away. Look to history, it repeats itself. Big government is eroding the free enterprise system. It is stifling the public schools. It is strangling the doctors in a morass of rules and regulations. And this is the tip of the iceberg. I challenge you to pay attention to what is happening in our country; to look at the socialistic direction our country is going, to be knowledgeable, and then to get involved. Remember — a government big enough to give you anything you want is big enough to take everything you have.

Don’t let the hard-fought-for and cherished freedoms of America disappear … the American way of life has been unique in this world. I challenge you, my dear ones, to preserve the heritage your ancestors fought and died for.

Oh, yes, memories cloud my mind today of the valiant men in my life, but also of a time when the world was more innocent, when a man’s word had meaning, when men could run their business the way they wanted to, when children could walk home from school alone safely, and of a time when no one had to lock doors …

And I remember …

About Betty Kerss Groezinger

Betty Kerss Groezinger, a native Texan, was born in Dallas. She was a legal researcher for President Harry S. Truman in Independence, Missouri, taught business courses at Rockhurst College in Kansas City, Missouri, and on her return to Dallas, she worked for more than a decade with advertising agencies. She has been a resident of Irving, Texas, since 1965, and is now working on the sequel to The Davenport Dilemma.
This entry was posted in America, General, Memorial Day, Veterans, Vietnam and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Memorial Day … a day to remember

  1. Milli Ruwaldt says:

    Enjoyed your blog very much. Well said and presented I learned things about family I had either forgot or remembered. Great article thanks so much for sharing it with me. Love you Milli


  2. leska says:

    I, too, remember !!!


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