In 2015 there were 1,000,000 surviving American WW II veterans. Now there are less than 400,000. In four more years, 300,000 of them will be gone.
A lot has been written on them, on WWII service women and women who worked in jobs related to the military effort.
There is little said however about the WW II era girls who were driving tractors, bagging groceries and teaching school as they waited for their boyfriends and husbands to come home. How many of them are we losing each day?
The worst day of Dad’s life was October 24th, 1944 when the ship he was on (USS Princeton, CVL-23) was bombed and sank. Many died that day, including his best friend, Bill Tanner. On November 12th, 1944, another ship with survivors, limped back into Pearl Harbor. Dad mailed a letter that day to 21-year-old Mary Goldsberry, waiting for him back home.
Among parts not censored by the Navy, he wrote that he “got off without a scratch.” Not true; but compared to what others suffered that day, his injury didn’t qualify as a scratch to him and it put Mary at ease. Expecting a good leave, he promised to come to her as soon as he got to the states.
Mom responded to his letter on November 17th. She’d heard of his ship going down. You can see the excitement and relief in her writing. She wrote, “I was so worried.” She told him to be sure and let her know when he was coming in on the train, and she would be waiting at the depot. She ended with, “…now don’t back out on me. Love, Mary.”
Dad didn’t back out. They saw each other on December 1st, 1944. He married Mom 27 days later. They wondered later why they waited so long.
Think About it…
Women like Mom are the last of that great generation. Their contribution was the next generation. They gave birth and the best years of their lives to us baby-boomers.
We could never properly thank them for their impact on the world, but we can say it.
So, to all those girls who gave so selflessly, and loved so authentically, “Thank you! You gave so much and asked for so little.”
If you have ladies in your church 90-years-young or more, touch their hand this weekend and say, “Thank you.” Protect them; they are a national treasure. And we lose many every day.
Mom’s funeral is on Veteran’s Day, 2019. Thank you, Mom.