I normally don't do this, but it's Memorial Day and I'm getting older. Time does that to a person, especially during occasions like holidays, weddings, birthdays, and sadly, funerals. We remember the past. Today I'm thinking of family who served during war -- WWII and the Korean War come to mind.
Uncle Pete (Momchilov) was my mom's brother. I didn't get a chance to know him very well. He died when I was twelve. He flew planes during WWII, was shot down a couple of times, but survived it all. Pete loved flying. After the war he went on to pilot commercial flights, small charters and such. Sadly and ironically, he died from a heart attack during one of those flights. His co-pilot was able to land the plane safely. Pete was only in his forties. He loved his country and flying. That's what I'll remember most about him.
I have three brothers, all many years older than I. My oldest, Art Schake, served in the army during WWII. I don't know anything about the time he served. I wasn't born yet, but I've seen photos. He looked so handsome in his uniform. He came out of the Army and continued to serve his country in another way, by becoming a police officer. That remained his occupation for thirty-some years. Unfortunately, he passed away in his early sixties and didn't get a chance to enjoy more than a few years of retirement. However, he lived a full and joyful life, loved by family and friends, appreciated by citizens and country.
My middle brother, Bob, is a quiet, dignified, and intelligent man. I can't even imagine him being in a war, but he served during the Korean conflict for several years. I was only four when he sent home gifts, including the outfit you see me wearing in the photo. I loved it and wanted to wear it all the time! I imagine it was quite a culture shock living in a foreign country for years. It must have been comforting having fellow soldiers around him, giving support and boosting morale. I'm sure he came back after he served, a wiser man, more worldly. He went on to further his education on the G.I. Bill, one of the benefits of serving the military. He found a job at Firestone Tire in Akron, worked his way to the top and ended up the VP of Purchasing for Dunlop Tire.
My youngest brother, Jim, may have wanted to serve in the military (I don't know for sure), but a health condition prevented him from doing so. He made up for it in other ways, becoming a viable and contributing citizen, raising a family, and working for a local company, Reiter Dairy. He's retired and has lived to enjoy seeing his three daughters marry and have children of their own.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that we all have different stories to tell, but also we have one thing in common: being proud of our loved ones who've served and knowing the sacrifices they've made helped make this country great.
Have a wonderful Memorial Day and honor your veterans!
*I apologize in advance for any facts I may have gotten wrong. In any case, I'm sure my brothers will let me know, if I did! LOL