Stars, Stripes and A New Year

There is nothing like the first day of the new year, going through some boxes that you haven’t seen in a long time, and finding a couple of Stars and Stripes, a photo of bomb ruin buildings and Hitler’s house in Berchtesgaden, taken by your dad. And seeing his handwriting.

That did it for me.

I glanced at one of my prom pictures and me ready for another high school formal, and smiled. I saw some early photos of my kids and smiled. But then, I kept going back to the Stars and Stripes.

It may sound strange, but World War II is in my blood.

No, I didn’t fight the war,but my dad did. Actually, the war pretty much is the reason that I exist. My mom, an 18-year-old fresh out of high school, was a typist at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri,. My dad, from California, was stationed there. Long story short … here I am.

Many men who were in the war, didn’t talk about it. But my dad was a storyteller, and I think he thought that it was important to tell us parts of what happened. He understood and saw what can happen to a country when a maniacal leader rose to power.

We also went to annual reunions of the 970th Engineers. I saw his comrades, doughboys in arms, who went through hell and came back, had families and carried on … the best they could. There was a lot of card playing laughing and joking amonst the men, and we kids, hit the hotel pool and messed around.

Many of you have read my dad’s stories. There are some that stay in my mind and always remind me … of lots of things. Yes, I am a skeptic of power, governments, and the presence of evil … and bravery and good and hope. Much of it stems from hearing dad’s stories and witnessing these men.

I also ran across my dad’s senior high school yearbook. He ws handsome. I saw him dressed as a wise man in one of the plays. He was an ace at drama. He was also know as a comdienne in the ranks. He recited vunny stories and got into character. But he was also an officer, and was a straight man as far as military was concerned.

I made a phto of an article in the Stars and Stripes that was about the liveration of Dachau. My dad was there.

In the article, they spoke of the doughboys and the horrors they saw. Fifty boxcars line on the tracks. Twenty, filled with bodies, mostly naked, a few covered with rags. Naked skeletol bodies were strew alondside the tracks. They ahd fallen out of the boxcars.

There was a kennel for a lot of big, angry dogs. The Nazis stripped the prisoners, hung them up and let the dogs go at them. When a dog bit the testicles off, the Nazis laughed.

Across the railroad tracks were houses. Those people sdenied knowing what was taking place, though naked bodies were in sight.

On the last day of the war, my dad was in Hitler’s house in Berchtesgaden. A couple of other soldiers were with him. Hitler and Eva Braun’s clothes were wtill there. One soldier got one of Braun’s brassieres, (that is what dad called them), put it on and danced around.

Some took souveniers. My dad didn’t. When I asked why, he said, “They didn’t belong to me.”

This morning, I hear my dad’s voice. I see him sitting at the kitchen table, wearing a bright colored striped apron that my sister had made him, leaning his head back, blowing smoke rings.

It just connected in me, that my dad played a wiseman in a high school play. It was a role that he carried through his life. He was a wise man.

And I miss him this second day of January, the 22 anniversary of my mom’s death.

SusanThere is nothing like the first day of the new year, going through some boxes that you haven’t seen in a long time, and finding a couple of Stars and Stripes, a photo of bomb ruin buildings and Hitler’s house in Berchtesgaden, taken by your dad. And seeing his handwriting.

That did it for me.

I glanced at one of my prom pictures and me ready for another high school formal, and smiled. I saw some early photos of my kids and smiled. But then, I kept going back to the Stars and Stripes.

It may sound strange, but World War II is in my blood.

No, I didn’t fight the war,but my dad did. Actually, the war pretty much is the reason that I exist. My mom, an 18-year-old fresh out of high school, was a typist at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri,. My dad, from California, was stationed there. Long story short … here I am.

Many men who were in the war, didn’t talk about it. But my dad was a storyteller, and I think he thought that it was important to tell us parts of what happened. He understood and saw what can happen to a country when a maniacal leader rose to power.

We also went to annual reunions of the 970th Engineers. I saw his comrades, doughboys in arms, who went through hell and came back, had families and carried on … the best they could. There was a lot of card playing laughing and joking amonst the men, and we kids, hit the hotel pool and messed around.

Many of you have read my dad’s stories. There are some that stay in my mind and always remind me … of lots of things. Yes, I am a skeptic of power, governments, and the presence of evil … and bravery and good and hope. Much of it stems from hearing dad’s stories and witnessing these men.

I also ran across my dad’s senior high school yearbook. He ws handsome. I saw him dressed as a wise man in one of the plays. He was an ace at drama. He was also know as a comdienne in the ranks. He recited vunny stories and got into character. But he was also an officer, and was a straight man as far as military was concerned.

I made a phto of an article in the Stars and Stripes that was about the liveration of Dachau. My dad was there.

In the article, they spoke of the doughboys and the horrors they saw. Fifty boxcars line on the tracks. Twenty, filled with bodies, mostly naked, a few covered with rags. Naked skeletol bodies were strew alondside the tracks. They ahd fallen out of the boxcars.

There was a kennel for a lot of big, angry dogs. The Nazis stripped the prisoners, hung them up and let the dogs go at them. When a dog bit the testicles off, the Nazis laughed.

Across the railroad tracks were houses. Those people sdenied knowing what was taking place, though naked bodies were in sight.

On the last day of the war, my dad was in Hitler’s house in Berchtesgaden. A couple of other soldiers were with him. Hitler and Eva Braun’s clothes were wtill there. One soldier got one of Braun’s brassieres, (that is what dad called them), put it on and danced around.

Some took souveniers. My dad didn’t. When I asked why, he said, “They didn’t belong to me.”

This morning, I hear my dad’s voice. I see him sitting at the kitchen table, wearing a bright colored striped apron that my sister had made him, leaning his head back, blowing smoke rings.

It just connected in me, that my dad played a wiseman in a high school play. It was a role that he carried through his life. He was a wise man.

And I miss him this second day of January, the 22 anniversary of my mom’s death.

Susan

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