|CR Isleib with his engineer corps in Wales, 1944|
|Lucy's husband John before Vietnam|
I have a number of veterans in my family--my brother served in the Marines for 25 years, my father-in-law served in the Navy, my husband served in the Army during the Vietnam years, and my father served as an Army engineer in Europe during World War II. My dad stayed in touch with his Army Corps of Engineers right up until the year he died. I often think this experience was the most important of his life. He bonded fiercely with his fellow soldiers and was fiercely proud of his service to our country. For my father and all veterans, I salute you!
RHYS BOWEN: Remembrance Sunday is a big deal in England. Everyone buys a poppy to wear in their lapel. I remember going to the Cenotaph in Whitehall, standing on a cold, bleak, November day watching the parade and the queen laying her wreath on the tomb of the unknown soldier.... with tears running down my cheeks. Also watching the service at the Albert Hall the night before when poppies fall from the ceiling.
My father served in World War II and was in North Africa then in Palestine. He took part in El Alemein. And it's funny, Lucy, but in many ways it was a highlight of his life. The intense camaraderie in the face of such hardship and danger made men know they were alive and appreciate every little thing. All my uncles were also in the British forces during the war--army, air force and navy. I think that war was the last time we had a clear knowledge of good versus evil and evil had to be stopped. Since then all conflicts have been gray areas, haven't they?
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: My godfather, Al Dorr, served in the Vietnam War. He then continued in the Army Reserves, and was part of the force deployed to New York City after the events of September 11. I know I felt better with him there! Also, my father and grandfather served in World War II. Hats off to all our veterans.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: My father was in the Battle of the Bulge. You have to imagine it--there he was, a bookish, musical, thoughtful 18 year old--he and high school classmate Kurt Vonnegut were captured by the Germans and taken to a prison camp. I say "taken"-- in reality, they were marched through the snow. Dad got a Purple Heart, and will not discuss it. Not a word about any of it. For years, all I knew what that he and Vonnegut would trade their cigarettes for writing paper.
Several years ago we were in someone's house, in their library, and Dad saw a paperback edition of an Untermeyer poetry anthology. He pulled it from the shelf and said--this is just like the book of poetry I carried with me during the war.
I said-you carried a book of poetry? Why?
And he said--to remind me there is beauty in the world.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Hank, what a wonderful story about your dad.
My father didn't serve in WWII. He was already in his mid-thirties, with a business and a young child (my older brother.) He was such a gentle, sensitive man that I can't imagine he would have survived it.
Both of my mother's brothers served. The dashing Air Force pilot in the photo is my uncle Bill Dozier. Neither he, nor my uncle Tom, who was in the Navy, ever talked about their war.
My husband's father, Paul Wilson, was an army doctor in Germany in the late fifties. He never saw battle but still served his country.
Reds, any special Veterans you'd like to tell us about today?