Thursday, my Aunt Joan, Sister Jane, my niece, great-niece and I spent the day with my dad. It's always fun to visit dad, but this particular day turned out to be extra special.
Daddy is especially excited right now because he is about to take, what for him, may be the trip of a lifetime. Daddy is going to visit Washington D.C. with a group of veterans, absolutely free of charge. It is through a wonderful program that at least once a year takes a plane load of veterans on an all expense paid trip to Washington for a one day tour of the war monuments and other highlights of D.C.. I don't know what the program is called, nor if it is in other areas of the country or just local. All I know is that Daddy is going and he is super excited. He has never been to Washington D.C. before. He heard about the program from a friend who went on the trip last year. He then filled out the paper work and last week got his letter with dates, times and itinerary. Daddy is a World War II veteran of the Navy Air Corp. He was a radio operator in a navy bomber plane.
All the talk of Washington and the war monuments got us on the subject of world war II, when daddy suddenly went to the closet and brought out a rather large manila envelope. The envelope contained all the service records of daddy's two brothers, who were both killed in world war II. We all knew about the 2 uncles we never had the chance to meet, but we had never really talked about their deaths. There before us were pictures, documents, copies of letters; all the information we had never known about these two men. It was a piece of our family history that had been missing. There was even a letter written in my Mamaw Williams's own handwriting that she had written to the government following uncle Charle's death. Mamaw died when I was only four so that was the first time I had seen her handwriting.
We spent a major part of the afternoon reading through documents and learning about these uncles we never knew. It got me to thinking about my dad's family and just what a sacrifice they had made. We often talk about the sacrifice the soldiers make but we seldom think about how hard it is for the families left behind. Grandad and Mamaw Williams had 4 children - 3 boys and 1 girl. All 3 boys enlisted in service for the same war and only one came home. Losing one child is beyond my comprehension, but to lose two in less than a year would just be unbearable. My heart goes out to anyone who has ever lost a child. I just can't imagine what my mamaw went through. My heart aches for her just thinking about it.
Charles was the oldest of the Williams boys. Charles was killed in August, 1944 near the beach of Normandy 2 months after D-Day. He is buried in the American cemetery at Normandy. You've seen the picture; row after row of white crosses. Uncle Charles was one of those thousands of Americans who gave his life in that foreign land before he had even had time to live his life in his homeland.
Donald was the youngest of the Williams brothers. He was killed in April, 1945 in Okinawa, buried for a brief time and was later moved to Honolulu where he was interred in his final resting place. Besides his mother, father, brother and sister, he also left behind a fiancee.
After his second brother was killed, daddy was returned stateside where he served out the rest of his enlistment. He was honorably discharged a couple of months after Donald's death. He and mother were married that August. How hard that must have been for him, knowing that Charles or Donald would never return and Donald would never see his wedding day.
Daddy's family was, by no means, the only family who sacrificed much during the war. There were thousands of families just like them who lost loved ones; grieving for what should have been. May we never forget the sacrifices made by so many, but especially the men and women like Charles and Donald who willingly made the ultimate sacrifice.
Until next time...that's my view.