Remember the sacrifices

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2003

I guess my initial desire to join the military shouldn't have come as a surprise to me. On either side of my family, my grandfathers were in World War II. Though I chose not to be in the Army or the Marines, I am content with remembering the bravery of my ancestors who fought in the war over 60 years ago.

Anyone who has been given a witness account of the war knows it is much different than what is originally taught in early history classes. There is something in the eyes, a sort of shielded pain, that simply can't be expressed on paper. I noticed it in my grandfather without having to ask him about it. My dad told me later that he asked my grandfather about the war when he was a kid, but he didn't like to talk about the war at all.

The loss of life, including nearly losing his own, was too much for him perhaps. Or maybe it was watching his buddies die, one of whom saved his own life by pulling him from a trench, only after my grandfather was shot in the head.

The horror of that war seems surreal, but one only needs to flip on CNN to see soldiers dying on a daily basis. One can't help but wonder if the type of tragedy in WWII, including two nuclear bombs, will happen again.

I know Iraq doesn't have "weapons of mass destruction," but what if one of its allies does? Needless to say, I wish nuclear and chemical weapons were never created. They were created out of fear, and they have been used out of fear. One thing I have realized is when people are afraid, lives are lost…

But getting back to my grandfather, I acknowledge and honor him not only because I love him, but because he fought against the tyrannical Nazi regime. I pay honor were it is due, and he helped stop a German leader whose rule included mass-murdering Jewish people.

I'm not saying I agree with all of the US military's decisions of that, or previous wars. As I said before, I wish nuclear and chemical weapons that have caused many innocent people grief had never been made. But they have. My hometown of Anniston has a toxic chemical weapons dump that is potentially dangerous to citizens in that community…

My grandfather didn't know that two nuclear bombs would be dropped on two major military cities in Japan, or that chemical weapons with sarin, a chemical that can kill on-contact, would be stock-piled in the town I grew up in. He only knew what Hitler was doing was wrong, and he volunteered his life to stop him from taking over the world. For that, I salute him and all of the other soldiers that have fought in a foreign war…

I can only dream of a time when fighting ceases, but I can only hope my future grandchildren will not see "that look" in my eyes. As Veterans Day draws near, I think of all the future Veterans, risking their lives today, tomorrow and possibly the next day Š.