On November 11th each year we are reminded to thank the nearly 23 million men and women who have served our country. The history of Veteran’s Day is actually interesting; it started with President Woodrow Wilson honoring the anniversary of the end of WWI with Armistice Day in 1919. The story goes that he knew the soldiers had gone without good food for so long because of rationing so the president invited 2,000 veterans to the White House for a ravioli dinner. Apparently, ravioli was a new staple in the U.S. thanks to the popularity of canning. Maybe next year we will remember to have ravioli to celebrate… I try my best to thank these men and women throughout the year and keep them in my thoughts and prayers.
This day really got me thinking about both of my grandfathers who served in WWII. Both were in the Army; one a TEC 4 and one a Paratrooper in the 503rd Regimental Combat Team. Their stories are amazing to look back on and are a snapshot of the life of veterans. As a child, I did a school project about Corregidor Island in the Philippines where my grandfather jumped and nearly lost his life in 1945. The 503rd jumped into some of the fiercest fighting of the war and it was a turning point in the South Pacific. Apparently, when my grandfather jumped, his chute didn’t open but his rifle and his camera (which he always jumped with) broke his fall. He was rescued by an American medic, who happened to find him in an abandoned Japanese garrison. It is an amazing story of luck and survival. In rereading it tonight, I came across some letters written from a Philippine woman to my Great Grandmother. This woman talked of how they fed my grandfather when he was passing by their farm and needed some water. He was so grateful to have a taste of fresh food and family that he returned regularly to play with the children and chat. This woman spoke of how grateful they were for the help of the Americans and said there would always be a home for my grandfather as long as he was near. My great grandmother ended up sending boxes of clothes and canned goods to this family as a token of thanks. These stories so humanize what service really means. It is amazing to know and be able to pass on this part of my family’s history to the next generations.
Pfc. Robert Eskridge, U.S. Army
Sergeant Jack Cochran Sr., U.S. Army
Remember to thank a Veteran today and remember them every day!!