The first memorial day was celebrated in 1868 to honor the fallen of the Civil War, union and confederate at Arlington National Cemetary. After WWI, the honor was changed from those who died in the Civil War to those who gave their lives in any US war.
At our house, this is a time to remember our family members who have served (and serve) in the US military. My husband is a veteran of the Air Force, his father served in the Army Air Corps and our nephew is serving in the Army now. My dad, uncles, brother all served in the Navy.
On our recent trip to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, we got to visit the cemetary there and meet a good number of the solders serving in the Army there. When we returned home my husband starting digging into the old boxes of pictures and memorabilia that his mother had saved. We found that his father had received the Service Medal and seven Bronze Stars for his service in both the european and pacific theatres of WWII.
The Seven Bronze stars represent these areas of his service:
- Central Europe
- African-Middle Eastern
Here is a re-type of the newspaper article:
St. Louisan Wins Soldier's Medal as Heroic Volunteer
Sergt. Harold C. Waite, son of Mrs. Ella Waite, Halliday Avenue, was awarded the Soldier's Medal, as one of four men who volunteered to remove a 2000-pound blockbuster which had fallen from the bomb bay of the "Patty Anne II" as it was being "bombed up" in England, May 28, for an early morning mission. Announcement of the award was made from a British air base yesterday.
The bomb fell on the ship's tail, its nose resting on the cross beam inside the bomber. It's fuse started: "If that bomb had exploded it would have destroyed five Flying Fortresses and killed several men," an officer commented.
"By flashlight," Waite wrote his mother, "the bomb was lifted, the bomber inched back and Lieut. Schneider, the pilot who was caught in the bomber, removed the fuse. It took 45 minutes and that seemed like as many hours to me..."
This is my salute to the father-in-law I didn't get the opportunity to know, a man truly loved by his family and especially the children he left behind when he died suddenly at the age of 40.
Although you've been gone almost 50 years, your memory lives on. Rest in peace, father.