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World without War?

by Corrin Strong
Clarion Publisher

5/30/96 Clarion News Service.

For the first time in many years, I did not attend the Memorial Day observance in Geneseo on Monday. My sister Sarah was celebrating her 40th birthday, and family duty called me away to Connecticut.
I missed the pageantry, and the opportunity to be a part of this uniquely small town ritual. In towns across Livingston County, Memorial Day is one of the few times of the year when the whole community comes out to mingle.
While perhaps many are drawn by the sounds and sights of the parade, there is of course a deeper message. To hear the rifles' salutes and the mournful playing of taps, is to be transported across time to the living memory of great battles.
Every year now, the line of World War Two soldiers grows thinner, their ranks replaced by veterans of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. Soon there will be no one left to stand as testimony to that horrible time.
Recently my daughter Mary Alice was given the homework assignment of interviewing a WW II-era veteran. Naturally, I suggested my good friend Bill Bruckel, who did a tour of duty in the Pacific as an officer on a submarine.
For over an hour, we sat spellbound as Bill rattled off the facts and figures of that time now over half a century past. Despite a few harrowing incidents, including mistakenly being fired on by an American destroyer, Bill came home in one piece to start a career in the law. His eyes clouded over, when he remembered the many friends who had not.
I was curious to see how my daughter would handle this material. These are not easy issues to get a hold of. What finally came through in Bill's account was the triumph of the human spirit.
Despite the stupid brutality of war, and the capriciousness of fate, people will struggle on to survive and plan for a life afterwards. Bill chose the sub service because he figured that there was less chance he would come home disabled.
The way he had it figured, he would either come home in one piece or not at all. On the basis of such gruesome calculations were young men's lives determined in that time.
I pray my children and grandchildren will never have to make such a fearsome choice, and that collective wish is why we continue to come out for Memorial Day Observances.
Even when the current generation of soldiers has answered their final roll call, we must never forget the horrors of war. We owe that to their memory.

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