Holiday season thoughts
By George W. Kulas
This holiday season is the first my family and I will be celebrating without my mother who passed away on April 1st. It's the second without my wife's mother who passed away on October 30, 2006. They are dearly missed this holiday season just as other families miss their mothers and loved ones who are no longer here.
Our mothers brought us into this world and for us the luck of the draw had us born in The United States of America. The miracle of life brought us here. The miracle of life could just as easily have had us born to impoverished parents in a third world country. Instead, at birth, we became Americans where with a huge price paid for by the blood and sacrifices of our forefathers we have enjoyed all the privileges, opportunities and hope being an American brings.
My father, like so many of our fathers and/or grandfathers, was part of the "greatest generation" who fought World War II on the beaches of Normandy, in the jungles of Burma, on the islands in the Pacific, and on every other blood soaked battlefield so that the American way of life would be preserved.
After they won the war the men and women of the greatest generation seldom looked back at their wartime deeds and sacrifices. They simply carried on building and improving upon the nation they had saved.
My father's Combat Infantryman Badge and his Bronze Star Medal now hang on a wall in my home just above the American Flag presented to my mother at his funeral. He never displayed the badge or the medals he earned while serving in the jungles with Merrill's Marauders nor did he talk about how he earned them. Like countless veterans of World War II he stored the material references to his actions in combat in an old box and the memories of his horrors of war in the back of his mind.
Every generation of Americans has had an abundance of such unsung war heroes. During this holiday season we once again find young, brave American service members in harm's way. Like millions before them they and their loved ones are enduring extreme hardships for us. Thousands have paid the ultimate sacrifice and thousands more have come home to America maimed for life.
It seems surreal that while my only concern for a day is whether I’ll bowl well at the lanes, our selfless and devoted service members are on foreign soil trying to get through the day without being blown up by improvised explosive devices or hit by snipers bullets. Their patrols through the ambush laden streets of Iraqi cities or mountains of Afghanistan are filled with hazards and anxiety making my ride to the lanes, over 6,000 miles away, safe and carefree.
During this holiday season we continue to thank them for their dedicated service to us and our country. Thankfully they, like all the veterans before them, are giving most Americans the opportunity to live life to the fullest. Hopefully, through their efforts, all Americans will eventually have the same opportunity. Hopefully, one day no child’s life on earth will be predetermined at birth by, luck of the draw.
George S. Kulas served as a Sergeant Major in the U.S. Army before he retired.