If only. Imagine if the armistice signed to end World War 1 had actually held. The fact that we had to start numbering our world wars should be enough to bring the world to stop and think. But there will always be maniacs that have a need for power and brave men and women who will fight to keep the right of people to be free.
Today I honor my father-in-law who, at an age he should have been in college, was trained to be a pilot to fly bombing raids over Europe. I look at the list of his bombing missions and see places his granddaughter is visiting this year as she studies abroad in Florence, Italy. He bombed targets in Italy. He bombed targets in Budapest and Vienna. – both places she just returned from last week. She loved Germany. She loved Budapest. She loved Vienna. She loves Italy. Because of the sacrifices of soldiers like her grandfather, she is reaping the benefits of a free Europe where she can travel and enjoy the beauty, history, and unique personalities of all the different countries. I do hope that her grandfather is able to see her and know it is thanks to his generation’s great sacrifice to rescue Europe from dictators that she is free to have coffee in Amsterdam, hot chocolate in Bruges, pastries in Vienna, beer in Hamburg, or chianti in Italy, and making friends with people in each country along the way.
My father-in-law did not really like to talk about the war. He called it “a long bad dream.” And yet he still kept his war trunk filled with memorabilia, old uniforms, flight logs, and medals. He didn’t put them on display, he kept them shut up in a trunk, but he kept them. It was a life-changing experience for him and loved going to reunions with the many good friends he made while in the Air Force. He and his two brothers all went to the war – he and his older brother Bob were in Italy as pilots. His eldest brother John was in the Navy in the Pacific. His parents were extremely lucky to have all three sons return home safely after serving.
And so today, on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, let us all pause and say thank you.