We took our grandkids to Pioneer Park in Ferndale, WA where you can see several renovated buildings from the early 19th and 20th centuries. We saw homes, an old postoffice, a store, and a printshop. But there was one building I lingered in much longer than the rest of my family. The VFW had filled the building with displays of relics from WWI and WWII. There were German, Japanese, and American rifles. Canteens, uniforms, helmets, Nazi arm bands and so much more.
This building was an emotional experience for me. During WWII, my father was a prisoner of war in Germany for over 2 years. Most of that time was spent in Stalag 17b. [Note: a movie about the Stalag was made in 1953.] Dad told us about the few funny things that happened, but he seldom spoke of the sicknesses and deaths and deprivation he’d seen.
Now, in this room, surrounded by the tools of war, I felt like Dad was somehow there with me. I could almost feel the fear, courage, loneliness, and loss his generation experienced. So many never came home. So many came home broken.
He has passed now, but I will never forget what he and his generation did for us. They were a special breed.