Saturday, May 28, 2011

Remembering their sacrifice

Ernest ("Ernie") Salter
Ernest Salter (or Ernie as we called him) was my children’s grandfather; I met him 21 years ago when I started dating my wife. At the time he was a retired College Professor in Nevada Missouri, the town where my wife grew up. Ernie served in the US Army from 1954 to 1957 and was very happy, of all the assignments he could have gotten, to have been posted in Berlin after World War II.

Ernie never talked much about his service; he likely got the posting because he spoke German. But he was happy too because he had several German relatives that he could visit and that helped the family stay connected after the war. He also talked about wanting to spend more time visiting his family while he was there but it was awkward apparently - given that the Germans had been our enemy. We think some of his hesitation to talk about his service was because he'd been proud of his German heritage but during and just after World War II that was not something to be openly proud of at the time. My wife tells me that this is one of the influences on her life that helped her to be sensitive to how people are viewed and treated. But she also understood what it meant to him to have guarded just that little piece of what was left of freedom in Berlin.

Years later Ernie developed Alzheimer’s and we decided to move to Tennessee from Ohio, because he was moving to Tennessee to be with Martha, my sister in law. We moved to Tennessee to help take care of him. I was happy we managed to keep him in our home for a while so he could be amongst family.

I never stopped being thankful to Ernie and the many other soldiers that have been doing their part over the years and continue doing it right now all over the world so we can have the freedom and safety that we enjoy every day. I am thankful to them every day, their sacrifice is one of the reasons I want to do my part to make this world a better place for all.

Last week in my neighborhood I met a soldier that had served in Afghanistan for four years, and recently had moved back to our area. While serving he had been hurt and had a prosthesis. We talked for a long while, and when we parted ways he asked me not to forget. I promised him we won’t. On this Memorial Day weekend, I keep the memory of what Ernie gave to my family and my country close at hand while I remember the sacrifices our troops have made in the recent Middle East conflicts.

I hope your family will have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and that you will remember to thank a soldier for service to our country.

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