A Sentiment

God knew what He was doing when He sent a gentle breeze and brought a lovely butterfly to set my heart at ease. The happiness of your friendship and the gentleness of your words have touched my life in special ways and now I feel assured. Thank you for your loyalty and for reading everyday. I only hope you find things to make a happy day.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What Memorial Day Means To Me

I went to see the movie, Saving Private Ryan a few years ago. I was in tears through most of the movie...and thought of my Dad and what he had gone through. Dad never talked about the war...so I never associated my Dad with the war experience. I went to see him, after the movie and said, "Dad, I never knew that you went through such a terrible thing." His answer to me was, "What did you think...that I was there on a picnic?" He was a gentle man...a poet who told his stories through rhyming words. He went to work on this story of war and called me a few days later to say that he had something for me. This is a long read, but I wanted to put it here, so I can see it and treasure it. I hope my kids and grand kids enjoy reading something that Grandpa wrote about the war.

My Part of the War, by Your Dad

I joined the Army in forty four,and was shipped to Texas in the medical corps.

I was shipped to Europe with first aid knowledge..Learned more about wounds than two yrs in college.

When I arrived in France..it was easy to see..This was a picnic...no siree.

All medics are trained like the infantry..So they gave me a gun and said that's what you'll be.

They told me I was selected for the Big Red One. From what I had heard this wouldn't be fun.

In this poem I'll tell you about a few things we went through. Each day was a struggle and the nights were too.

These happenings will not necessarily be in order. I can't remember exactly when we crossed the border.

The first day of action going through a small town, the artillery shells came fast and pinned us down.

When they let up a little we ran for cover, I picked a small building that looked like the others.

The floor gave way and my leg went through. When I pulled it out, it was covered with poo.

Once in the woods we were taking a break, a plane came over and dropped bombs of German make.

They were filled with phosphorus which sprayed out a glow, if this stuff would hit you it would burn a hole.

One day when entering a town that was small...a sniper let loose, he hit one of my squad and cooked his goose.

Our squad searched the building..entering every room, when we found him lying there it was his doom.

Sometimes we traveled through the woods by day, artillery zeroed in to clear the way.

There were Germans dug in to stop our advance, most of them scattered when they got a chance.

One of them shot me right through my pack..he missed my body by only a crack.

I saw him so clearly looking at me by the wall..I know that I shot him and saw him fall.

Late one day we came to a tank..It was on the road on our right flank.

The captain ordered bazooka teams to the fore..I was part of the team..didn't relish this chore.

Lucky for me the tank was abandoned there..It was out of commission, the inside was bare.

One day trading shots with Germans head to head..In moving forward I saw my friend Smitty laid out with the dead.

He and I were close buddies while training for war...we were always together, but not anymore.

Once we were crossing a field on the run..the planes came over and strafed us...it wasn't fun.

We hit the ground and hoped they would miss us...when we saw they were American planes I was ready to cuss.

They were strafing the Germans dug in up ahead..this was too close for comfort, but the Germans were dead.

Being close to our tanks was both bad and good..They drew artillery fire wherever they stood.

They did clear the minefields that were in our way..and they knocked out machine gun nest every day.

At night Danny and I were most always on outpost...we were supposed to take turns watching..I did the most.

At night it was always like the Fourth of July..the planes dropped their bombs and so many died.

One Sunday morning I remember it well..German shells came at us and gave us hell.

We were out in the open and couldn't get out..Shells flew all around us, they were giving us a rout.

I had never prayed more that I did this day..I know I was shaking and white as clay.

Soon the shelling stopped and we left there fast..our artillery had knocked out the Germans at last.

The shelling came close as I later found out..several in my company were killed in this bout.

One day we came to a River four times as wide as the Fox..They had row boats for us...oars in the locks.

I think there were ten of us in each boat..with four of us rowing all our gear we did tote.

Our boat was one of the first upon shore..the artillery came in just ahead with a roar.

This is the time I earned the Bronze Star..I was leading the attack in the front by far..

We went in shooting in the woods on the run.The Germans took off without firing a gun.

Once we had a German platoon at a standstill..they were surrounded in woods at the foot of the hill.

We called on the tanks that were very close by..to fire some shells both low and some high.

The Germans came out of the woods at last..The field were we cornered them filled up fast.

We got souvenirs on this day of the war...guns, knives etc...we could have had more.

Some of the guys were acting so weird...I heard they were shell shocked when sent to the rear.

The night after this capture we moved to a town...we went into a building and soon bedded down.

Early next morning we left on the run..our planes were coming to bomb...it wouldn't be fun.

Soon as we left the planes came in..they dropped their bombs and made quite a din.

We watched for a hill, where we were before..bomber dropped their bombs and away they would roar.

When we came to a town at the end of the day..we took over a house just out of the way.

One time I took a pan to soak my poor feet..to put them in hot water was such a treat.

The woman who lived there gave me a piece of her mind..I told her it was the best I could find.

She gave me an old one to use for the job..muttering in German... she thought me a slob.

One time we entered a house that looked real...we came there in time to interrupt a meal.

There were sixteen kids eating around the table..we left there fast as soon as we were able.

One time I slept on a bathroom floor...during the night I felt a rat..and then saw some more.

It didn't take me long to get out of this room...Danny also left there we both did zoom.

This house had pigs and cows in a pen near the house..They use animals bodies for heat for heating the house.

Whenever we were needed at a different place, we'd ride on tanks or half trucks with steel for a base.

This was no way to travel very far..there were no cushions, not at all like a car.

Once we came to a road with small trees on each side..each tree was wired with dynamite...they'd no time to hide.

We had to disconnect the wires before our advance..if they'd gone off there'd be no second chance.

Once we were pinned down on top of a hill..everytime we moved, they shot to kill.

In the exchange of shots we finally won out..only one of our squad was injured in that rout.

I had to take him to the road our sergeant did say..an ambulance came and took him away.

I went back up the hill and everyone was gone..I was all alone, but not for long.

An officer came by...I'm happy to say..he knew where my company was and showed me the way.

I gave Danny hell for leaving me behind..after they left me stranded I didn't feel very nice.

My fox hole partner, Danny, was really no prize..at night , on his watch, he would close his eyes.

Most nights I slept with one eye open..after many nights like this my spirit was broken.

When we came to a house...and had to search each home..he'd go for the valuables while each room I combed.

The only good thing about him I would say...he traded me cigarettes for candy each day.

Near the end of the war we came to a concentration camp..it was at the foot of the mountain by a railway ramp.

The stench of dead bodies was everywhere..the work of the Nazis was so hard to bear.

They made missiles deep in the mountains we heard...with forced labor, the Jews, a rumor we heard.

The missiles they made to bomb England and France..called Screaming Memes by the allied advance.

Now I have told you some things of the war...it doesn't last long and I hope not a bore.

One of the squad I was in for this short time...only four of us made it to the end of the line.

I often wonder about the Germans I hit...They were just like me...trying to do their bit.

If you stayed with this to the end...bless you. Dad was in the hospital, when he came home from the war. He was at Ft. Sheridan. I went to see him...I was just a little girl...my eyes were wide open as I looked at soldiers wounded in the war. Dad came back home and never talked about this to me...until I asked him. Love you Dad...I'm proud of you.



Anonymous said...

I don't think I've read this one from Grandpa before. It is amazing that he (and his generation) could bury this so deep inside and not verbalize it post-war. This helps me to appreciate more all that our soldiers have given up and experienced to keep our freedom. -John D.

Balisha said...

Hi John...This wasn't put into the book of his poems...he wrote it as a surprise for me...just to explain what he had gone through...it is several pages long.I don't know if anyone in our family has read it. I sent the blog address to everyone, so they could have it.
His was the greatest generation.I've heard that many vets never talked about the war again. After seeing the movie...I think that I can understand. Nicely said, John...Love you, Mom

Margie's Musings said...

Mt stepdad was in the war and he had nightmares afterward. He finally told me (I was 12) his war stories and gradually he stopped having his nightmares.

Barbee' said...

What a fine post! Balisha, I thought I was speechless until I got to the end. We lived in a barracks at Ft. Sheridan 1964-66. My husband was one of the medical doctors there. We had 4 children ages 6 mos. to 6 years. I didn't get out much. He hated the winters, but we appreciated being that close to Chicago (zoo, museums, etc.) and Ravinia.

Anonymous said...

My grandfather also fought in WW2. He never spoke of it. Iam always impressed when I see men of that generation today -- to look at them and realize what they saw and what they did, and then to return home and pick up where they left off. A remarkable generation.

Enjoy your Memorial Day.


Anonymous said...

So many gave so much over the years. Wonderful post. I hope you two are having a great weekend. It has turned off very hot here. Your garden and house looks just beautiful. I planted 18 tomato plants and they look awful. First so much rain and now the heat. Hopefully, they will make a comeback.