My brother and sister-in-law stopped for a night with us on their way south to attend the Vietnam POW Reunion at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum that coincides with the 40th anniversary of a White House dinner hosted by President Nixon to honor their sacrifice. Finally, after so many years, these survivors who suffered so much are again being honored.
I was in college while my brother served in an intelligence unit in Hue. He worked with Vietnamese and loved the city. He and his co-workers became good friends as they carried out their duties in the beautiful ancient capital of Vietnam. On January 31, 1968, the city was overrun. Our family didn’t know for days whether he was alive or dead. When the Marines retook the city, my brother was found severely wounded. He still has pieces of shrapnel imbedded in his body.
My husband, Rick, was serving as a Marine in DaNang during the Tet Offensive. We had known one another since fifth grade and were friends. When he heard about my brother’s capture and eventual repatriation, he wrote to me and said I was lucky to have him alive. Most who were taken captive didn’t survive. By the grace of God and some miraculous circumstances, my brother did. Rick and I began a correspondence. When he returned stateside December 20, 1968, we started dating. We married December 21, 1969.
My father-in-law was also a POW. He was a civilian working for Pan American in the Philippines when Manila was bombed on December 7, 1941, the same day the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor. He was interned in Santo Tomas, and later taken with other “unattached” men to build the Los Banos Prison Camp. He spent over three years imprisoned and weighed less than a hundred pounds when freed in one of the most spectacular rescue operations ever planned and successfully carried out in military history. The Los Banos Raid has been presented on the history channel. Dad was among those who smuggled information out of the camp to aid in the operation.
My father served as an Army Captain and was a medic in the third wave on Normandy. He was also with a unit that freed holocaust survivors. Dad took pictures of what he saw and kept them locked away. He never talked about what he saw, and he never wanted to set foot on European soil again. He had dreamed of going into medicine. After the war, he trained for the police force and worked in forensics. Later, ironically, he became a county coroner.
I hold my husband, father, brother, father-in-law and son-in-law who served four years in the Air Force in the highest esteem. I am grateful and proud they carried out their duties. They each served our country bravely. They sacrificed and suffered for the sake of others. They and many others like them have given all of us the gift of can freedom. I am thankful for the men and women who continue to serve in the military today.
Memorial Day is a time when our nation comes together to remember the men and women who served and continue to serve in order to preserve our freedom and sovereignty as a nation. May the Lord bless them and keep them always! May the Lord pour our His blessings on each man and woman in uniform! And may we never forget those who gave their lives so that we might be free.