Lalie, my wife and keeper of all that’s dear to me, deserves credit for the following message from Mike Giorgio of Warren County. (Readers of January’s The View from Plum Lick may recall Lalie’s work to recover and restore my Korean conflict medals, which had been lost for many years.)
Here’s one reader’s response, which has made me feel even better.
“Lalie, I did the exact thing for my dad before he died.
“He had served in WWII and Korea, and I had all his medals framed and presented them to him at Christmas two years before he passed away.
“Dad had two Purple Hearts: one for being shot in the leg while on Iwo Jima, and the other for being shot in the arm while in Korea. Thankfully, they were both just flesh wounds, and years later all Dad had was a couple of small scars. By the way, Dad was very close by, observing that famous scene of the flag-raising there.
“I was 5 years old and remember when Dad left us to go to Korea. Then, one night, a young boy rode a bicycle up to our door. He was wearing the Western Union hat, and he gave my mother a telegram. She closed the door, opened the message, and read it—all it said was my dad was ‘wounded in action.’
“My mother briefly squeaked out the words to me, started crying, and immediately fainted and fell in a heap on the floor. There I was alone with her, and it frightened me beyond belief.
“I still remember running as fast as my little legs could carry me to a house down the road…I cried oceans of tears the whole way, desperately wanting help from the neighbor. The mother and father both ran back with me and put Mom on the couch and they tended to her.
“I was shaking and crying, mainly because I hated seeing my mother cry and be so hurt.
“A few days later we received another message that told us it was a flesh wound and that Dad was fine. But still, that time period of my life sticks with me like it was yesterday.
“I served 32 years on active and reserve duty in the Army and retired at age 60 two Octobers ago. I have a drawer full of ribbons and stuff. Maybe I should make my own display and not wait for the family to do it when I’m close to death.
“Tell David I’m proud of him for his service. I didn’t realize he had served in Korea like my own father. Gives me some sort of even more ‘connection’ to David.
“I wonder sometimes what happened to some of those young German kids I gave candy to over 30 years ago.
“I still remember their smiling faces!”
Thank you, Mike, for memories.