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September 30, 2011 > Remember all veterans

Remember all veterans

Submitted By James McGee

My uncle took me out to lunch today. It wasn't an ordinary lunch at all, but a very extraordinary one. We attended a luncheon for the Golden Gate Chapter of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. The gathering was not large in size, but large in stature and pride with nine World War II veterans, including my uncle, in attendance. There were men from the infantry, artillery, even from famed General George Patton's army. One was a machine gunner, one was a scout, one was tall and steady, and one was slow and quiet, but all were from our greatest generation, a generation that put country first; a generation that fought bravely for America and for the freedom of other countries from Nazi Germany.

The guest speaker was a vibrant and thankful woman named Lucie who was born in Cologne, Germany, a young child of six years old when American GI's occupied her hometown in 1944. She shared fond memories of strong and kind U.S. troops that turned away the Nazi regime. The young girl would grow up to be a translator for the United States government and eventually join the Army Reserve where she would meet the love of her life, coincidentally a veteran that had served in Cologne in 1944 and who had fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Recently widowed, Lucie now travels all around the country and fights her own battle, the battle to ensure that veterans are not forgotten and receive the care and assistance that they are entitled to.

During the lunch I shared a picture and stories of my father-in-law who had landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day and had also fought at the Battle of the Bulge. The veterans and family members listened respectfully and commented on just how terrible the beach landing had been and just how brave he must have been to survive the battles.

One of the veterans that I met was Armando, who had grown up in California and was drafted at 19 years old and ended up serving with the Massachusetts regiment in Europe. He told the story of how he made it through the war without injury until the last day of the Battle of the Bulge when he was wounded by Nazi mortar fire, sending shrapnel into his knee and shoulder. The shrapnel was removed from his knee weeks later, but the shoulder injury was not operated on until over 20 years later when he finally gave in to the lingering pain. He said he could never throw a ball or pick up a baby after being wounded, but he said that's okay, "you just have to learn how to live life".

The lunch with my uncle today was a powerful occasion and a stirring memory that I will never forget. I was honored to be in the presence of our greatest generation, looking a bit older than they had during that valiant stand in Europe in 1944, but not looking any less proud. We should take a hint from Armando and just learn how to live life, and we should never forget the contribution that our veterans and their fallen comrades made so many years ago.


Photo by: Robert Souza
Photo Caption: Travis Amsbaugh's family presents a $50,000 donation for the Castro Valley Veterans Memorial on September 23.

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