Photo © Jay Alpert. Reprinted with permission.
Thank You for Your Service!
Dreamtime Wellnesses™ is ‘Giving Back’ to Veterans throughout the month of November.
A Chance Meeting With a Word War II Veteran – A couple of days ago, I rode the elevator at the medical building where I have an office. A man riding the elevator with me mentioned, “I don’t care much for elevators.” Since I work with people in my professional practice to help them overcome fear including ‘fear of elevators,’ his mentioning this led to a conversation we may not otherwise have had.
Turned out Jack, (not his real name) is also afraid of other closed-in spaces, crowds, and fireworks that he related began while on active duty. I asked ‘Which war did you serve in?’ and was shocked to hear “World War 2.” He looked much younger than his stated age of “92.”
We spent the next twenty minutes in the freezing cold as Jack shared his experiences, then and now. Jack said, “four soldiers were from one street in Peabody. I was the only one that made it home.” Jack kept apologizing for “taking up my time.” What he didn’t know is that I so loved talking to him and could have spent hours listening to his story.
Back then, the veterans of WWII and even Korean and Vietnam Wars had little support for what is now diagnosed as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.) Most of the returning soldiers never spoke about their experiences, not even with their families.
Remembering My Uncles That Served in WWII.
My Four Uncles Serving in World War II – Four out of my eight uncles saw combat in World War 2. My cousin Cindy recently gifted me a beautiful book (*excerpts from her book) about our family’s WWII history, for which am most grateful.
Cindy’s father (Uncle Mike) was on the European front. My other three uncles from our mother’s side all saw combat in the Pacific. “They all participated in key battles in the war and were awarded numerous wards for their participation and bravery.”(*) Cindy had two other uncles on her father’s side that served, ‘Babe’ and Anthony who were also on the European front. All of our relatives survived the war.
Uncle Warren – Warren was our remaining WWII family survivor, until this past January when he died at the age of 96. He started off in the Navy but was transferred to the Marines as a Corpsmen. “Warren saw about 25 days of constant battle on Iwo Jima.” (*)
Soft-spoken and mild-mannered, I could never imagine my Uncle Warren (or any of my uncles) being in combat. Warren came home from the war with permanent hand-tremors, his only visible ‘scars.’ Many years later, Uncle Warren had the opportunity to return to Pearl Harbor on a U.S. carrier, along with his grandson Michael. There he told me he had the opportunity to “speak with and shake the hands” of former soldiers from Japan, which seemed to be very healing for him.
Uncle Al – Of all my uncles, Al spoke the most about his experiences in WWII, sometimes choking up and with tears in their eyes. He was in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. I loved looking at his photo albums, which reminded me of National Geographic. Al, a medic received an individual Bronze Star for rescuing and saving some wounded soldiers. “Al had a distant cousin from New Hampshire that was one of the men that assisted in raising the flag on Iwo Jima.” (*)
Uncle Stan – Stan received 3 Bronze Stars while in WWII. He also rarely spoke about WWII. He returned from the Philippines with a pair of bamboo sandals which he gave to his mother, but which have since returned to the Philippines and are now on display there in a museum. (*)
Uncle Mike – Mike was in Germany and the only one physically wounded but refused his Purple Heart because “my mother would have a heart attack if she received a letter stating I had been wounded. He was awarded 5 Bronze Stars, later replaced by a Silver Star.” (*) Prior to enlisting, he worked at Sentinel TV and was responsible for the radio communications equipment.” (*) Uncle Mike was a man of few words, and I don’t recall him ever talking about the war. He died (too) young at the age of 59 of a heart attack, taking his ‘wounds’ to his grave.
My Mother and Aunt’s Role in WWII – My mother and her twin sister (Cindy’s mother) both now 90 years old, worked in a factory that made raincoats for the military. Mom relates a story where she slipped a piece of paper with a note into a pocket of one of the raincoat.