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  • Robert M. Edsel

Father Day is Special

I recently received a moving letter written by the widow of one of the Monuments Men which I hope to share in more detail in the future. She began her letter by very casually mentioning that when her husband left home to fight in World War II as a Monuments officer, their son was but 3 weeks old. He did not see him again for 3 years. He was “lucky”; there were 294,000 Americans killed during World War II who never had the chance to return home to their loved ones.

We take alot for granted today, especially some of the more simple, basic things. Her letter reminded me of that sad fact. My father–one of the lucky ones who did come home from war–had in 1944 not yet met my mom. He was, like so many others, just 18 years old when he joined the Marine Corp. Within less than a year his group was shipped off to Saipan to bring the 2nd Marine Division back up to full strength. In the months that followed his division saw duty in Okinawa and later entered Nagasaki just weeks after the atomic bomb had been dropped. He was a part of the “greatest generation,” the men and women who returned home after military service during World War II, attended school on the GI bill, started families, built businesses, and created the country we know today.

When I began this project it was my goal–my hope–to finishthe book in time for my father to see it while he was alive. Fortunately, I was the lucky son who had such a simple wish fulfilled. On Sunday, Father’s Day, in addition to enjoying some time with my dad and expressing my appreciation for all he has meant to my life, I intend on spending a few more moments thinking about the “dads” among the 294,000 Americans who lost their lives during World War II, and the sacrifice they made to provided us with the freedom to enjoy this special day.

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