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It's Not "Cook Out Day"

On this Memorial Day, take a moment out from your BBQ to remember why we have a day such as this set aside. Many in my family will be remembering those we lost in wars, like my Uncle Bert, the co-pilot of a B-17 who died in battle while in the service of his country. We should all be pondering what our lives would have been like if our brave men and women didn't stand up to thugs like Hitler and Tojo. This piece isn't about my family, it's about our families, all of ours. Everyone has lost someone.

If your family members had returned from war, what would their lives have been like? Might they have had an impact on the direction your life? If they had been there, could they have taught you something that inspired you? Perhaps you would be doing something different for a living. Would they have had families of their own? Would you have other relatives because of that? Some of them may have been people who could have enriched your life, or even the world we live in, if they had been born. But they weren't born, because your family member died in a war against evil.

None of us will ever know what might have been. But the questions themselves and some quiet reflection on what the ultimate sacrifice really means might be in order this holiday weekend. Thanksgiving isn't "Turkey Day." Christmas isn't "Santa Claus Day." And this isn't a holiday to celebrate "National Cook Out Day."

To all of those who have served and survived, I give you my heartfelt thanks. And to those who never came home, I'll try never to forget you.

My daughter, a librarian (and family historian) writes a blog for the Cecil County, Md. library. She wrote the following piece about my uncle and about Memorial day. In the picture below my uncle is the second from the right in the back row. All of the men in this photo made the ultimate sacrifice for us. I pray their families know they will not be forgotten.

The men in the group photograph are: S/Sgt. Clyde B. Burdick; 1st Lieutenant William H. Broley; 2nd Lieutenant Albert H. Davies; 2nd Lieutenant Joseph M. Darmiento; T/Sgt. Lowell A. Dawson; S/Sgt. Edward H. Jones; T/Sgt. Edward K. Clyne; S/Sgt. Kenneth S. Greer; S/Sgt. Kenneth T. Donovan; Sgt. Edward S. Caspariello.

The article follows. You may view the original here.

May 24th, 2012

Memorial Day Memories - By Leah Davies

Before he was a hero, he was just a Chicago kid. The youngest of four and son to English immigrant parents, Bert was adored by everyone. His family used to tease that he was “Momma’s little bubby-mies,” a playful way of saying that he could get away with anything. No one seemed to mind.

Albert Davies
In front of the dry goods store
where he worked as a child 
Bert finished high school and worked as a purchasing agent. His brother – who, despite being older, idolized Bert – enlisted in the service in 1942 and was stationed in Detroit as a military policeman. Nine months later, Bert decided to do the same. He was just 24 years old when he joined the United States Army Air Corps. The family couldn’t have been prouder; Bert was going to fly.

“Hell’s Angels” was her name, an iconic B17 aircraft on a mission to bomb the U-Boat Yards in Kiel, Germany, and Bert was her 2nd Lieutenant. After a successful bombing, she was up against fifty German FW190s and Me109s. Around 12:30 in the afternoon, Hell’s Angels suffered a hole in the rudder and a stopped engine. Bert, and his 9 comrades on board, died over the North Sea.

This memorial day, I’ll be thinking of the men of the 8th Air Force 91 Bomb Group 322 Bomb Squadron. I’ll be thinking of my great-uncle Albert “Bert” Davies, a man who continues to be honored and loved in our family, though his story survives only through faded correspondence and the memories passed down to a generation that never met him.

This Monday, May 28th, the library will be closed in observance of Memorial Day. The long weekend is a perfect opportunity to meet with your family and tell the stories of the brave men and women who have died in service to our nation. If you’re planning to interview a veteran or those who remember the service of one who has died, consider consulting the chapters on interviewing in The Genealogy Handbook by Ellen Galford and The Genealogy Sourcebook by Sharon Debartolo Carmack. To read about the stories of brave Cecil Countians, be sure to check out Cecil’s Soldiers: Stories from the World War II Generation by Jenifer Dolde.

And if you’re interested in local history, make sure to check out the Journey Stories events coming to Cecil County this summer and fall.

Who will you be thinking of this Memorial Day? Please share below!

1 comment:

Tom Benjamin said...

You are spot on with this blog Grant. All too few Americans realize that Memorial Day was once called Decoration Day when people would go to cemeteries and decorate the grave sites of Vets KIA with flowers and flags. Yes, it was a day to remember those who paid the ultimate price for their and our country. Tom B.