Sending a high school student to war…

Veterans Day is a day to thank living veterans for all they’ve done for our country.

Memorial Day is set aside to honor fallen soldiers. In 1938 Congress dedicated November 11 “to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.’”  This new legal holiday honored the World War I veterans and the end of “The War to End All Wars.”  In 1954, after both World War II and the Korean War, Congress changed  “Armistice” to “Veterans,” and November 11 became a day to honor all American veterans of all wars.

Veterans Day Celebration near my home. In the first photo, people the MC asked people to stand who have a family member in the announced branch of service. I had someone in every single branch of service, even the Merchant Marines. (Holy moly, veterans have impacted my life in very personal ways.)

I know Veterans Day is still a week away. Still, I don’t think it hurts to think about Veterans for more than a day. After all, we have a full month of November dedicated to “PTA Healthy Lifestyes” and a whole week flagged as Split Pea Soup Week (November 10-16.)

At the bottom of this post are a few other posts that I’ve written over the years about Veterans Day. I particularly like the one about Dr. Errol Alden because I never knew how much the military contributed to our healthcare until I met Dr. Alden.

Of course I love the stories my Grandpa wrote about his experience during WWI.

Grandpa also wrote about his own son, my Uncle Gene, going to war. What a helpless feeling he had as a veteran himself, now sending his oldest son to war. I recreated it here as a reminder of the sacrifice and heartbreak a family can experience when their loved ones ship out.

…The war was still going on and we had Germany in a bad way and ready to give up, but Japan was still giving us a lot of trouble. The army and navy needed many more men and were asking for enlistments and were drafting. We knew that before long Gene would be called and him still in high school. There was a lot of urging by the teachers and others to enlist. The enlistment was only for the duration of the war. Gene did want to enlist so badly that Stella and I finally let him do it. At this time, Stella was in the Saratoga Hospital (Detroit) after being discharged, Dr. Granger wanted her to stay at his house until she felt better.

from the memoir of Frank N. Zyber (undated)

Stella was my grandmother. Dr. Granger was her brother. I’m not sure why Grandma was in the hospital. Mom told me that Grandma had very poor nutrition as a child, which resulted in illnesses as an adult. At that time, there was a lot of anti-Polish sentiment. Her brother, Frank, changed his last name to Granger, so no one would know he was Polish. Needless to say, this caused a lot of friction in the family. Grandpa had some reservations about his brother-in-law’s doctoring ability, and Detroit was more than an hour’s drive away from where Grandpa lived at that time.

I decided to visit [Stella,] and while there , Gene kept bugging me about him enlisting. Stella and I talked it over and Detroit was the only recruiting office, as Flint did not have one. We thought of taking him there and maybe it might be several weeks or more before he would be called and hoping that it would not happen.

So Gene and I went to downtown Detroit where the office was and after finding the place and getting in, there was no waiting. He was written up and in no time and no further waiting was told that he would stay there until morning and would have to take the physical. This did kind of surprise Gene and he just didn’t know what to say. He was told that if he passed the physical, he could go home for a couple of days and then go to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station near Chicago. I myself could hardly believe it to be true and felt very much alone going back to Stella. She asked how we made out and I said that I left him there as they wanted him right away, but he would be home tomorrow some time. It was kind of a shock to her but as she said, “there is nothing we can do.”

A couple of days later, Gene called and said that he was coming home and I told him I was going to the Granger home to get Stella home. I went there and got them both and Gene was tickled that he asked and would be assigned to an aircraft carrier. Two more days at home and then we took him to the Grand Trunk depot where there were several others that were in the same group. He would be back after boot training for a week’s leave and then would be sent to the port where his ship was waiting.

from the memoir of Frank N. Zyber (undated)
This is Grandpa with one of his grandsons. Chip would have been about the same age Uncle Gene was when he enlisted. Really not more than a baby.

I can only imagine what it would be like to send my oldest son to war when he was still in high school.

I’ll tell you more about Uncle Gene’s experience as Veterans Day approaches.

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