This past weekend my wife and I went to a memorial service for her cousin – he passed away at the young age of 48 from a heart attack. While we were at the memorial services my wife and I got to visit with the cousins in-laws. While we were sitting there talking, I noticed a USMC tattoo on the father-in-laws left arm, just a couple of inches below the elbow. He told me that he had been in World War II and had been part of the Okinawa invasion force.
The father-in-law did not go into a lot of detail about what he saw on Okinawa, it was clear the pain and memories hurt to much to re-live them.
One memory that the veteran shared with me, was after the fighting in Okinawa was over, he was told that about 110,000 Japanese soldiers had been killed. Ok, 100,000 so what, it was just a number.
Several years later, the father-in-law was sitting in a coffee shop in Atlanta Georgia when a marathon was going on. The marathon just happened to have 110,000 people in it.
As he is sitting in the coffee shop years after the war, and he is watching 100,000 marathon runners go be, it hit him as to how many Japanese has died on Okinawa. Talking about watching the marathon almost brought the veteran to tears.
Listening to this man talk – I realized that the generation that fought in World War II is probably the greatest generation this nation has ever seen. We had the founding fathers, and the generation that founded this nation, we had the civil war, and the generation that fought against each other, we had the generation of World War I, the generation of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Shield / Desert Storm, and the generation of today.
The generation that fought against the Japanese, Germans and Italians – in my viewpoint – is the greatest generation of all. Not only did they fight the greatest war the world has ever seen, but they rose up from the ashes and rebuilt. Without them, this world would not be what it is today.
A few hours after the memorial service, all of the family members out out to a nice steak house in Houston, Texas. We had a great dinner and celebrated life.
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