Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Purple Heart Day

I heard a day too late that many states have declared August 7, to be Purple Heart Day, a day dedicated to the honoring of and memory of those military veterans who have sustained injury in a field of war, defending our freedoms.  This post is my belated tribute to Joe's Grandpa Kindler.

Joe's Grandpa, Stanley Kindler, is a Purple Heart recipient.  He didn't receive this honor, however, until recent years.  I understand this is quite a common occurrence.  The folklore that I've heard regarding this phenomenon is that because there were many military personnel who would intentionally injure themselves in order to receive this honor, many of the true injured heroes avoided claiming any honor for their valid injuries.  They did not want to be in that same category of recognition seekers.  I don't know how widespread this reason is, but I have heard it several times.  It makes me happy that many of our military heroes are finally receiving the honor they deserve.

Grandpa served in the U.S. Marine Corps during WWII.   Grandpa loves to tell his Marine Corps stories, and he makes the experience sound fun and exciting.  But he also, every once in awhile, relates very touching and heartbreaking stories of his war time experiences.  Grandma tells of the nightmares that plagued Grandpa all his life.  To this day he does not like closed spaces or loud, sharp noises.

Grandpa fought in the Pacific theater.  He was stationed in New Zealand.  He was with the troops that fought in the Battles of Tarawa and Saipan. 

I don't know in what battle he was injured, or in what manner.  But he simply kept going.  He, along with many others, just kept doing their job.  He was not in it for the glory.  He was in it to serve his country and to have a job.  Times were tough at home.

Grandpa's mother passed away while he was overseas.  He didn't even get the letter telling him she was sick until after she had died.

This is how I remember Grandpa telling the story of how he ended up in the Marines Corps.  He and a buddy had heard that there was a group of recruiters down from Canada, signing up American boys to serve in their military.  When they got to the designated location, there were recruiters there, from both American military and Canadian.  But most of the lines were quite long.  There was one table, however, with little or no waiting.  And so the fellows decided to try that table instead. 

That was the table with the Marine recruiter.  Those who had more familiarity with things military apparently knew how difficult and dangerous the life of a Marine was, and were willing to wait in the longer lines.  But again, Grandpa and his buddies just did what needed to be done.  They joined the Marines and went to war. 

Thousands of others did the same thing.  They joined one of our various military venues.  Some of them were injured and killed.  Others came home to bear emotional scars throughout their lives.

Grandpa was hospitalized during his time in the military, but it was not for a war time injury.  He was home on leave hunting with some buddies.  Somehow a gun discharged unexpectedly and Grandpa was shot in the foot.  He spent time healing up in Fort Snelling military hospital.  As Grandpa tells it, this might be kind of an embarrassing story, except for the special ending.  You see, it was during his recovery, that Stanley Kindler met his future bride, LouElla Roberts.

LouElla was working at the Malt-O-Meal plant in Minneapolis.  Remember, this was the era during which all the women took to the factories to keep the country running while the men were off fighting.  LouElla, too, was doing her part for the war effort.  LouElla lived with another girl who spent time with one of the soldiers at Fort Snelling.  I don't remember all the details, but I think this fellow thought Stan needed some cheering up, because he asked his girl to find a friend who would come along see a movie with Stan.

I don't know if it was love at first sight, but it had to have been nearly so.  Stan and LouElla were married at the chapel at Fort Snelling within three months of their first meeting. 

Grandma and Grandpa had four children, twelve grandchildren (I hope I counted right), and I think twenty-one great grandchildren.  A tremendous legacy to one day leave behind.  They are both still living.  They have lived through many adventures, both joyous and trying.  They are both story tellers.  I hope to write down some of their stories one day, for a lasting record. 

Sentimental Journey was "their song."  I chose to include the video at the beginning of this post because of all the images of WWII era America.  It seems a perfect tribute to the Greatest Generation.  (There is, however, one image included that I could do without.  You'll know it when you see it.)

For a touching picture book that beautifully highlights this part of American history try to find a copy of All Those Secrets of the World by Jane Yolan.  It's currently out of print, but see if you can, find it at the library or your favorite used book source. 

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Joe A said...
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