Monday, May 27, 2013

Last Posting for Memorial Day, 2013.
  (Explanation:) During the time Mrs. Morrow wrote, it was considered inappropriate to "splash"  
   names around in the press/public.  So, with my grandfather and my father's permission she duly
   noted them in the column as "The Husband" for Joe Fagan Morrow and "The Boy" for Joe
   Ellingwood Morrow.  By the 1950's, is was considered acceptable to use proper/given
   names and so in later columns my brother and I are actually named.  )

Can you imagine in these days of "no man left behind" having the following discussion with your son or daughter as they left for the war front?    Read on. . . .

"While The Boy was still overseas in the thick of the Battle for Europe, The Husband and I agreed that, should he fall, we would not ask for the return of his body; he, himself, had requested that he not be moved if he fell, and since he is home, he still says he would let the war dead lie where they are.

Many, many, however, have requested that their dead be brought home while others are still in doubt.  For these families an article appears in the May (1947) Readers Digest, “Let Them Rest In Peace.”

The writer and his wife, who had lost a son, went to Holland to see the cemetery where he lay,and after seeing the “thousands of small white crosses in perfect symmetry upon the hilltop, with the Stars-of-David blooming among them ” they decided to leave him” Rest in Peace.”

“Row upon row, our sons lie as they marched, side-by-side.  They sleep in death as they had slept in camp.”

The two parents went at all times of the day and in all kinds of weather to make doubly sure they wanted to leave their son buried where he fell,  and came to the following conclusion:

“if I could speak to homes, those stricken as mine, I would like to say two things: First, the cemeteries in Europe are beautiful and as nearly perfect as we could wish.  Second, the people in the midst of whom our sons lie buried are kindly, thoughtful, appreciative, and conscious that it is an honor to pay tribute to the young warrior dead.  Nothing will restore what once has been.  Those many thousands look so quiet—let them rest in that quietness.”

Some have made memorial parks such as the one in Tulsa at Boulder on the Park, where crosses have been erected as a shrines to their dead and that, too, is a beautiful and fitting, and comfortable place where one may go with bowed  head to sit awhile with thoughts of a loved one, for the one is as near in spirit there as they are in France or Holland or New Guinea. “

On this Memorial Day, 66 years later, may they rest in peace.  Happy Memorial Day!  Go celebrate the freedoms these young warriors have provided for us. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

By Memorial Day, 1947, the country was struggling with how to handle the war dead.  Read on to see the amazing -- and coordinated effort -- that followed on to return the soldiers to families who made the request.  An interesting bit of history as you pay your respects on this Memorial Day -- 66 years later. 

"When the WWII was over, all possible means was used to identify all casualties and locate all missing and the war department is quite emphatic that” all identifications are absolutely positive,” easing the fear that some families are likely to receive a body other than that of their own son or daughter.  All identified are unknown are also named.

Our honored dead lie in 201 temporary cemeteries in 57 countries scattered from” Greenland’s icy mountains to India’s coral strand”  and from the jungles of Borneo to Holland and Italy.  WWI dead  were practically all concentrated in France which is readily accessible and, in 1920, appeared to be a peaceful Europe; then only 60% of our people wanted their dead return, but now 80% of the next of kin want their WWII heroes brought the home.  Congress has appropriated funds that the fill the desires of every deceased service person’s family.  Regrettable delay and several postponements and the return of our war dead have been caused by strikes; steel, and consequent shortage of steel caskets, but the government now hopes to complete their removal within 30 months.

Our honored dead will be returned in a progressive operation depending on climate, shipping and other factors; there will be no priorities or distinctions in either time, ship or casket; those lying in Hawaii and Belgium are scheduled to come first.  All funeral ships will debark their caskets at New York or San Francisco, from which point 118 funeral cars will forward the flag draped caskets to 15 distribution centers nearest their final destination.  Each service person will  be accompanied by an honor guard of the same or higher from his own service.  The next of kin and will be advised of the progress and the exact time of arrival sufficiently in advance so that there will be ample time to make final preparations.  There are four optional burial plans as set forth in the American Legion magazine and for May, 1947. "

From "Just Thoughts of a Plain Country Woman", The Collinsville News, May 29, 1947.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

As Memorial Day approaches. . .  and we see and hear the story of soldier who founded the "Carry the Load" walk, it is interesting to see the emphasis that we placed -- as a county -- on returning the dead to their rightful place. 

The following except is from my grandmother's column, May 25, 1947, Collinsville News, as she talks about the effort to locate all missing warriors from World War II. 

Did you know about this effort?

"More than 200,000 of our honored dead of WWII are being returned for final burial.  In the fall of 1947, a somber gray funeral ship will steam in the San Francisco Bay.  The first of America’s valiant dead will be home at last, two years after the end of hostilities.  At the same time, the first contingent from the battlefields of Europe will arrive in New York.

Behind the vast program of returning the war dead to their native soil is an inspiring story of one of the greatest organized searches in all history.  The Graves Registration Service of the Quartermaster Corps has quietly conducted a gigantic, worldwide search for the body of every fallen American, no matter how slight the clue or inaccessible to the grave.

In Europe alone, 10,000 trained personnel combed over a million and a half square miles seeking to recover an estimated 25,000 missing Americans.  Other thousands of patient searchers struggled on foot through the steaming jungles of Burma and New Guinea, explored of remote valleys of the Himalayas, and scoured the steppingstone the islands of the Pacific.  They used helicopters, ox carts, motor cars, dog sleds, spotting planes and amphibious equipment.  In some remote regions, it was necessary to call up supporting troops and planes to fight off the savage bandits.

From the first landings in the north of Africa to the final smashing of the Reichwehr, the fallen were removed to the rear,  as the battle swept forward, and appropriate burials in temporary cemeteries were held.

In all previous wars, the fallen were buried on or close to the battlefield or lost forever in the depths of the sea.  And the last war, thousands plummeted to death over every sort of lonely spot, as a result of the aerial operations from the Azores to Murmansk, from the misty Aleutians to the dreaded “Hump.”  Thousands of others made the supreme sacrifice on the myriad atolls of the South Seas, and hundreds of intelligence officers vanished in the Balkans, and near and Far East without a whisper ever coming back of their fate or their final resting places.  "

There is more. . . . I will continue next week. . . . stay tuned!