Monday, May 30, 2011

What Memorial Day means to me

I posted this years ago but felt a need to repost it . To remember the loved ones that died for our country.

He would never feel the breeze of a Iowa cornfield on a hot summer day or the sound of the train as it went
through his small town. Instead my Uncle Joseph would be a Pow during World War 2 and die in a foreign country. My mothers brother Joseph was a Pow that died long before I was born. I never knew him yet heard about him all my life. Uncle Joe was taken prisoner when the Japanese invaded the Philippines. General Macarthur left behind thousands of men that had no where to go so they were sadly captured by the Japanese. Some of these men were on the Bataan Death March and others like my Uncle were sent to Pow camps on other islands in the Philippines‘.

Because my Uncle Joe was a strong young man he along with a couple hundred men were taken to an island and worked constructing an air strip for the Japanese. He slaved away with the other American Pow’s.

The war was coming to an end the Japanese were losing. My grandmother in Iowa was notified that his camp would be one of the first to be released. A sad change of plans occurred and my Uncle was one of the men to be killed at the Palawan Massacre. I won’t go into details but I will say what happened was part of the Nuremburg war crime trial. Because of this war crime the United State realized they had to get the Pow’s being held by Japanese out or their fate would be similar.

There was book called Ghost soldiers written by

Hampton Sides It tells the story of what happened on Palawan and what the United States did to save the other POW’s in other camps. It’s a part of history that you rarely hear about.

So this Memorial day I realize with so many American’s that my freedom comes at a cost by others. So many Men and Women like my Uncle Joe have sacrificed so much for me.

My family is not the only family that sacrificed their best and their brightest for this country. I never knew my Uncle Joe but I knew what he gave and I am truly thankful. My Uncle along with 123 Pow’s were returned to the United States in 1952 long after the war ended and is buried in a mass grave in Jefferson Barracks Missouri.

I reposted this story for Memorial Day The pictures I took today are Fort Rosecrans where boy scouts place a flag for every grave.


Linda, NE Iowa said...

Thank you for sharing this part of WWII that so many of us have never before heard. It's men like your Uncle Joe who have made it safe for the rest of us. I doubt the grandchildren of today understand the sacrifices made for our country.

Julia said...

Cheri, it is so proper for you to dedicate this post to your uncle Joseph. Thanks for sharing this sad story. You have every right to be proud of your valient uncle Joseph. Hugs, JB

Larkrise garden girl said...

I know this was a very somber story but I felt it was the true meaning of memorial day. I know sometimes we say thanks for the sacrifice to this country but unless you know some one who made the ultimate sacrifice it never seems real. You now know my Uncle Joe a young man from Boone Iowa who got a moment to tell what he gave up.cheri