My father, Jack Barry, enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 18 and served in Patton’s army during World War II. He told some very entertaining stories about the day to day escapades of military life which sounded like a cross between the old Sgt. Bilko series of the 1950’s and an episode of MASH. But like most veterans of his era, there were some things in his experience that he was extremely reluctant to discuss. When pressed, he would simply quote General Sherman’s address to the 1879 graduating class of Michigan Military Academy: “War is hell!”
In the service, my father met my uncle, Morkie, who became his best friend for life. On their first day back in Massachusetts, Morkie introduced my father to his sister, June, whom Dad married a few years later. Two years after that, I was born, then my brother, Mark. My father once told me that, when the war ended, what he wanted most in the world was to come home to the small town where his family had lived for generations, to work and raise his own family there. If the war had done one thing for him, he said, it was to make him understand what it was he really wanted.
So today is Nov. 11, Veteran’s Day. It was on this day (11/11) in 1918 at 11 AM that World War I (“The War to end all wars”) ended. In honor of my father and all veterans who have served our country, I wish them the peace in body, mind, and spirit that they have sacrificially earned and so richly deserve.
P.S. For the historical context of the phrase “War is hell!”, go here.