By Tom Busselberg
Ah, Veterans Day.
It means so many different things to as many different people.
If you’re a kid in Davis County, these days, it’s probably of little importance.
After all, you still have to go to school!
But it means something different if you’re a kid in Davis County, and your dad or mom serves in the military, or in the Reserves. Or has completed his or her service.
You can see where this is going.
It’s the way life is for months, or even years, maybe once, twice, or even three times, for others.
It’s etched in memories forever for someone who actually occupied a fox hole in Vietnam, or fought in the 130 degree heat in Iraq or Kuwait, or had to deal with the rough terrain, to say the least, of Afghanistan.
Then, there are those still alive who remember the trials of World War II.
Every Dec. 7, my long-deceased mother would bring up her recollections of the day Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.
She was a young single woman, having barely turned 22. (My father was definitely in her sights, but circumstances of the war and other realities delayed their marriage from happening for a few more years.)
But I digress.
It was a Sunday afternoon, and she first heard the news on the radio. TV was only in its experimental stages in those days.
I believe the war was a major topic of discussion at the evening service of her church, that night. They may have even cancelled services.
After all, this was war.
She lived in Milwaukee, a city with a strong German heritage. In those days, German immigrants were everywhere Р running the meat markets, bakeries, restaurants, cleaning the houses, building the homes and churches. And on and on.
You get the picture.
America was at war with Germany. Speaking the German language in church services was verboten.
Beyond that, every American had to get accustomed to rationing: for gas, flour, sugar, butter, and more. And windows had to be covered with dark sheets to protect against possible attack.
The war took many of the men to combat. In those days, there were few women in combat-related jobs (although we shan’t forget the WAVES, those valiant women who were actually a part of the Armed Forces).
Other women had to join in America’s battle against the German Axis and Japan.
For my mother, it meant putting her skills to good use for the Navy as a typist/secretary.
For my dad, it meant enlisting in the Army Air Corps, predecessor to today’s Air Force. He served stateside and never saw combat duty. But as a very fast stenographer and typist, he aided the effort in one of the all-important jobs.
I compare it to the supply chain folks who feed the airmen and troops, build the tent and other cities, do so many things those of us not involved tend to forget.
I’ve been fortunate to have never lost a living relative to a war injury.
For that, I must refer back to my mother’s telling.
Her cousin, who had the then-common name of Fred, was affectionately referred to as Freddie. I could tell she was fond of him.
The brief version of his valor, as she told it was this. He was a pilot, flying low over a farmer’s field in France, then in enemy territory. The plane lost power and was heading straight for a farmer, guiding his horse-led plough.
Rather than risk killing a farmer in then German-held territory, he diverted the aircraft’s path.
Freddie died. The farmer lived.
Ah, Veterans Day.