A Memorial Day Tribute

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[ Brothers in the service ]

May 30 – Today, I am paying tribute to my five brothers, each of whom was a member of the armed forces years ago. Ed, second in age, was the first to enlist. He had asked my dad to sign off for him since he wasn’t old enough to enlist on his own, but because my dad wouldn’t sign off, he had to wait till he could sign up on his own. After some training he was off to Iceland for further experience. While he was there, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and he was sent back to the States to serve aboard an aircraft carrier in the Pacific for two years. I was really proud to tell my friends in high school that MY brother was on that ship! I will never forget that Day of Infamy. December 7, 1941… The next year I graduated from high school. A number of classmates were graduated in absentia since they had enlisted that year.

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[ Ma and Rich ]

As the days went by, and the war spread around the world, two of my other brothers enlisted: Frank in the Air Force, and Roy in the Navy, while another brother Rich was drafted. We were proud of the little flags hanging in our living room window, honoring those big brothers of mine. I surely was thankful that none of them displayed the message that any of those guys had lost their lives. Ed continued with his service in the Pacific, Frank went to California for training, Roy was in Michigan, and Rich went to work in a hospital in England where he met Nat, his wife-to-be.

These young men could have told stories of their time in the services, but they took it all in stride, serving in the forces as did so many others, and not bragging about it in later years.

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[ Pete receiving a commendation ]

I didn’t have a photo of my youngest brother Eugene (Pete) in the service, but just this week his daughter Bonnie in Massachusetts, sent me not only a photo, but bits of information I can add to this blog now. At the age of 21, just after his marriage to Beryl, and a very short honeymoon, he was drafted into the service as a medic at Fort Sam Houston. Beryl worked in the psychiatric hospital on the base. The photo shows him receiving a commendation from the brigadier general.

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[ Ed and his Navy family ]

Today I am still proud of the work that they did, some far away from home, and of the families that they raised. A number of their kids, as they became old enough, signed up to serve our country, and some of their grandkids did the same.

My brothers did not serve for the accolades they might receive, or for the service bars they could place on the front of their uniforms. They loved their country and wanted others around the world to know that the United States of America stood for the rights and freedoms that every person should enjoy.

Two of these brothers, Rich and Pete, died last December and January. As I think about them now, their strong younger sister must admit to having tears in her eyes! As the years go by, I have come to appreciate how they influenced me to follow their example of trying to help others who needed them. This Memorial Day is not just about our servicemen and women, but about love and caring for the family and honoring those who deserve so much.

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[ Frank, Ed, and Rich ]

Years ago, there was no Memorial Day as such. Instead, this special day in May was called Decoration Day, a day in which families decorated the graves of the loved ones who served their country so faithfully. However, as the years went by, the country, in order to have another three-day holiday, made Memorial Day fall on the last Monday in May. Sad to say, this celebration does not seem as solemn as it used to be years ago. Some say, “Oh, well, it’s just another holiday,” but I can’t accept that. Both Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day will always be special to me, not just because all of my brothers did their part in serving our country, but because I will always be proud and thankful that I am an American! – CHRIS

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One Response to A Memorial Day Tribute

  1. Richard says:

    That was an excellent story, Aunt Sis, and I must admit to having a tear in my eye as well, thinking not only of all the Christoph brothers having served, but also of Dad’s passing in December, and Uncle Pete’s a few weeks later.

    I did not know that Uncle Pete had been stationed at Ft. Sam Houston for medic training, as was I during the Vietnam era.

    Thank you for your interesting and informative writing and for the photos.

    Like

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