My family has a long, proud military history. Both of my grandpas served in the Navy and were deployed for more than one tour of duty overseas. My first cousin, who is about 6 months younger than me, served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. And most, if not all of my great-uncles served overseas and like many others, several of them died there.
My great-aunt posted a blurb about one of her brothers today that I wanted to share. Every year on Memorial Day, my grandma and my sister and I would go to put flowers on my great uncle Warren and great uncle Raymond’s grave sites. It was always a long crazy trip because my grandma could never remember where the flower shop was and when she did, then finding the graves themselves was always a bit of a disaster, but we made it each year.
Since my grandma died 11 years ago, I haven’t been back. I’m hoping that someday we’ll be in town and I can take my son and tell him about his great, great uncles (and his great grandma who loved them so much) and the sacrifice they made for our country.
From my great-aunt’s post:
My brother, Pvt. John Warren McClure lost his life on Guadalcanal on Feb. 22, 1942. He was 21 yrs old and unmarried. I am the keeper of his things. I re-read today a telegram, hand written to my parents on March 18th 1941. Yellowed and tattered but still legible it reads, “Leaving today… destination unknown….don’t worry….will write….love Warren.”
Just imagine those days and times and the families left to worry. My brother had not even seen the ocean before he sailed over it. He wrote several poems that were published in military papers.
My grandma used to tell us stories about Warren and the poems he wrote. As with most memories that are several decades old, the details are a little blurred, but I know that my grandma was so proud of her brothers- you could feel it in her words and see it on her face every time she spoke of them.
And so even though I may be painfully politically liberal and about as anti-war as they come, I have a tremendous respect for the sacrifices that our soldiers made and continue to make each day. These men and women put their lives on the line to defend freedom around the world, and for that sacrifice, we remember them today and every day.
When the ship docked in Australia a few short months ago
A grinning native at the dock hollered “Hi ya Joe”
This name spread as all names do and soon all came to know,
The Khaki clad american soldier by the simple name of Joe.
None of the boys mind their name for every one of them knows
That he’s proud to be just one of an army full of Joes.
Now Joe is the name of your best friend, and also of you and me.
He’s the guy you meet on the company street, and every soldier you see.
And if these shores should be approached by any foreign foe,
They’d find they’d have to reckon with a bunch of guys named Joe.
So here’s to Joe and all his friends where ever they may be.
In Australia, or in the states, or far across the sea.
May the folks back home just realize how much they really owe
That their safety lies in a bunch of guys that bear the name of Joe.
-PFC John Warren McClure