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Building A Modern Nation

September 22, 2015
by Kate Myers , Emmetsburg News

Historically speaking, earlier this month marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Sometime after September 1, 1945, soldiers began returning to lives as a civilians. It was during those days, weeks, months and years the Greatest Generation began shaping the nation we know today. Educations were received, factories shifted from the war effort to durable good production and communities grew as young families enjoyed peace.

Thankfully, the ravages of war had not touched our immediate family. My parents were children in the 1940's and although my mother's father had younger brothers who served, a childhood mishap with a Christmas tree covered in candles left my grandfather deeply scarred. I have always believed his burns kept him from service. Instead he remained in Iowa to farm. My father's father tried more than once to join, but he too remained state-side to assist with the war effort.

Our family owned a home in a subdivision of Davenport that was built following that war. In our neighborhood, modest homes lined the streets. I suspect some our neighbors were veterans, although not many talked about it. Being a veteran was part of millions of lives.

I was blessed to know one World War II veteran well. He was the father of a friend - a quiet man with quick wit and a sense of service he possessed his entire life. He introduced me to the annual Toys For Tots campaign. His daughter and I were on the gift wrapping crew. He always took us ice skating between Christmas and New Year's. I know now it helped us "blow off stink" during the Christmas break.

It has been reported that our nation loses 492 World War II veterans each day. Nearly a month ago, I attended the State of Iowa's commemoration of the end of hostilities with Japan. The event held at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery featured retired pilot Captain Jerry Yellin of Fairfield. He has the distinction of flying the last mission over Japan. During his remarks, he challenged all young people to take up the cause of freedom and continue the commitment to service.

As we head into the season of plenty, let us remember the generation that gave so much to maintain our country's strength.



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