Wednesday, March 4, 2009
A man was killed in action, the son of immigrants from the Austria-Hungarian Empire.
When he enlisted, he was considered 'the old man' by his fellow enlisted and drafted Army buddies in Boot Camp. I am sure he took some ribbing because of that, plus the fact he didn't really have to be there, because prior to joining the Army, he was considered a war essential worker, and thus pretty much exempt from being drafted. That, and the fact he was married and had two young girls at home would have allowed him to defer any military service.
But I digress...
He was a simple man, who only completed the 9th grade. He went to work in order to help with the growing household of siblings as a iron foundry worker in Cleveland, Ohio. He was typical of the workers at the time...he didn't have a bank account, so he would stop at the corner bar near the plant, have a beer or two, cash his check, and take his earnings home.
He worked at that plant for years, coming home each and every day tired, dirty, the pungent aroma of the blast furnaces emanating from his clothes, but always happy to see his two girls. He smoked 'Chesterfield' cigarettes, liked his coffee strong and black, was addicted to homemade chicken soup, and loved toast with butter, sugar, and cinnamon. He was fond of telling his Mom and Dad to speak only English in public, but would converse with them at home in Slovak, however, he refused to teach his daughters the language, for they were 'Americans.'
On October 10, 1944, in a nondescript battle that never made the history books, at a nondescript village in France with a common name, a Sergeant was manning his machine gun when a 'tree burst' killed him, at the young age of 34, leaving behind a wife, a daughter aged 15, and a daughter aged 10.
I often think of this man, and what he could have been had he lived, for you see, this man was my Grandfather, and although he was just one of many killed in World War II, he has been always a source of pride and inspiration to me.
Grandpa, you are gone, and although you and I have never met, you are near and dear to my heart, each and every day, in more ways then you can imagine.