watermelon, hamburgers, fried chicken in a bucket;
Swimming at the local pool...
diving, splashing, stroking down the lane;
Visits to the cemetery...
flowers, prayers, memories that abide;
Flags of red, white and blue...
the Stars and Stripes of our great land.
This is America on Memorial Day.
Why the celebration?
Insight from the words of a soldier...
excerpts from a letter to my aunt and uncle;
Germany, May 22, 1945...
my father, Ken Brubaker;
Once a farm boy from southwestern Kansas...
now driving a tank across Europe.
"Folks, it's a business that is hard to describe, for me anyway...
When you move into a burning town
throwing everything you have at it...
and you see little kids the size of Kenny Lee on up,
scared to death and trying to get out of the way,
you realize that war is really hell.
My earnest hope is that the American mothers and kiddies
never, never have to go through anything like it.
It's strictly no good...
"We were the first ones to hit Hitler's most dreaded Concentration Camp
which was right north of Munich called Dachau.
Folks, there is no way of describing that place.
There were 32,000 prisoners there, more dead than alive
and on one railroad siding there were 39 box cars with an average
of 50 bodies on each one, some more, some less.
You could smell the place easily 10 miles away...
"After seeing things like that
one realizes what an unhuman [sic], ruthless,
nasty bunch these monkies are.
"The S.S. guards were really taken care of at Dachau
by the American soldiers in one big way.
If anything the taking care lasted too shortly.
Anything was too good for those birds.
"Needless to say we are all glad it is over over here
and wished we could say the same for the Pacific.
It will be a great day when things have settled back to normal again.
I for one will be plenty tickled to be with the wife and son again.
"Well folks 'tis past bed time so will sign off.
Hope all of you are well.
Personally I feel like a million.
This rugged life in one sense of the word is quite the thing
for an old "35 year older" I guess. Ha."
Memorial Day, 2015, seventy years later...
I pause to reflect;
The history of the American celebration...
to honor the veterans who died during the Civil War;
The remembrance beginning in 1866...
with flowers, with colors, with prayers.
Today, we honor all who've served and continue to serve out country...
grateful for soldiers who have fought for the freedoms we cherish;
Those who lived and those who died...
each one fighting to keep free the faith and traditions we hold dear.
So, in memory of my father...
Thank you, Dad, for your brave sacrifice and service...
I miss you so much!
Your loving daughter,
Ann Brubaker Greenleaf Wirtz