Dear Tom, opening old doors on Memorial Day.

Two of my uncles fought in WWII. One was a bombardier. He and his crew mates were shot down over Occupied France– it was their second plane, The Beast. Their first plane, I believe it was the Moonbeam Mcswine, got all shot up but managed to limp back to England where it crash landed. The original navigator was killed. In the second crash, all but the pilot survived. The pilot resisted. He was shot in the head by the Germans. The remaining crew members were transported to a POW camp in Germany. My uncle spent two years there. He weighed 90 pounds when the camp was liberated by the Russians. He said the first thing the men did when liberated was run wild over the countryside. Someone shot a cow. The men grilled it over an open fire. They’d starved for two years, surviving off the maggots on rotting potato skins. He wrote in his diary that the cow tasted like heaven.

Another uncle was a tail gunner. He was shot in the face, yet still managed to fly the plane back to England after the pilot and co-pilot were killed. He always wore a beard to cover his scars. (Had what he called a steel jaw.)

Takes big cojones.

My dad was just a youngster at the start of WWII. But he enlisted as soon as he could – 1945, a month before the war in the Pacific came to an end. He was grateful for Truman because, as he says, he and every man in his boot camp knew if they had to invade Japan they would all die. But my father wouldn’t have been part of the invasion anyway. He was so dang smart and scored so high on tests he was sent to the CIC- the Counter Intelligence Corps. Besides, he spoke German.

To this day I don’t know what he learned there. His standard line is, “If I tell you I’ll have to kill you.”

But he didn’t want to go overseas. He missed his mother’s cooking. (Which is pretty funny since he hated her cooking.) When his two years were up, he came home.

My two uncles are dead. My dad is, happily, alive, healthy and happy. And so busy he barely has time to talk.

My gratitude to that generation knows no bounds. These were just regular guys who morphed into hero guys. They had no choice. We are free (even to be idiots) because of them.

Because it’s Memorial Day, and because I had acupuncture this morning and my knee isn’t all that bad today, I started removing the old lead paint from an antique door.

That door will be my canvas. I have big plans…

door 1

Door Number One.

XOXO! Julia

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15 thoughts on “Dear Tom, opening old doors on Memorial Day.

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      It would be nice, Greta. Not holding my breath. I do think courage rises to the top at times. Definitely did in that generation.

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  1. rayplasse

    My Dad was a Paratrooper on D Day and was hit by mortar shrapnel and was missing in action behind enemy lines. I always thought it was interesting that 25 years later I would be stationed in Germany protecting the country he fought in WWII.Β  I had 5 uncles on my mothers (brothers) side fight in WWII. 2 died.Β 

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    1. juliabarrett Post author

      Wow, Ray! My dad’s best friend was a paratrooper on D Day. I cannot imagine. How did your dad survive? Was he captured? Brave family my dear Ray. Amazing.

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  2. Roberta

    Very moving remembrance and honor of the WWII generation. Yes, we all owe that generation our ever lasting gratitude. We can never honor nor say ‘thank you’ enough. Very moving tribute, Julia. We should never forget.

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    1. juliabarrett Post author

      Haha! Thanks, Anny. I worry what will happen as that generation and those memories fade away. As a collective people we have such short memories.

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  3. Diana Stevan (@DianaStevan)

    We do owe so much to those who’ve fought for our freedom from tyranny. They were all so young and made such a sacrifice, one they couldn’t have imagined when they enlisted. My dad’s three brothers all fought in WWII, two in the army in Italy, one in the air force. My dad, the eldest, went to enlist but because he had dropped out of school early, they wouldn’t accept him. Later, when they were taking everyone, he wanted to enlist but his three brothers told him that the military already had three from the family and besides, his wife was now pregnant (with me) and he was better off serving at home. I have one uncle’s war diaries. Another suffered nightmares for the rest of his life. And the pilot eased his pain with alcohol. PTSD was not a term or an accepted diagnosis after the war. I don’t think anyone can go through war and come out of it unscarred.

    Have fun with your door. Hugs.

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    1. juliabarrett Post author

      You’re right, Diana – nobody came through that war unscathed. Lucky for you your father didn’t go. Three sons are enough.

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