The loss of a single soldier costs families their future. The death of John Clarence “Jack” Blickensderfer in World War II changed our family forever. It is in honor of his sacrifice for his country that we personalize Memorial Day each year.
Our family has been fortunate that later service -- honored each Veterans Day -- was not as costly, but it too changed our family. This year three generations of veterans represent three different branches of our military. My husband, my son-in-law, my grandson each chose a branch for a variety of reasons – none of them for military tradition. Their service was not a career choice, but was service in time of need. Each returned to their family, to ‘every day’ lives.
Jack, too, responded in a time of need, at nineteen years of age. Within just a few months he graduated from flight school, celebrated his 20th birthday, flew a bomber to England and died in the skies over Hoorn, Holland on July 7, 1945.
In remembrance of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month ending of World War I, we wish to honor not only our family’s veterans, but all of the American servicemen who lay aside the every day activities we take for granted. As Jack did, they literally laid down their lives for their fellow citizens. With deep gratitude, we appreciate the large numbers who are returned to their families.
None return without scars. Some physical scars, some with scars on their very souls. They have submitted themselves to the will of citizens whose votes determine the leadership of their country. At times that will fluctuates, at others it swings widely. But the respect our nation holds for those in service remains strong.
So, on this very special day, a grateful nation bows its head and says “Thank you,” praying for those still in harm’s way. God bless them and return them to their families. Keep us ever mindful of their presence, let us never forget their service. When the opportunity arises, thank them personally.