Monday, May 29, 2017

Remembering Sol Fein...Normandy D-Day Veteran

   "We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.  James A. Garfield  May 30, 1868 Arlingon National Cemetery

I met Sol Fein while researching material for Papa's blog.  I stumbled upon his blog and was just mesmerized by his postings.  Sol was 85 and decided one day he needed to write about his WWII experiences.  We spoke to each other many times throughout those six years.  He enjoyed reading my postings on my father's blog.  We shared many personal stories of our lives.  He often referred to me as his long-lost cousin.  He loved my southern accent.  I knew he enjoyed playing cards with the guys so he enjoyed the packages of cheese straws I sent him from time to time.  I had last spoken to Sol during the summer of 2016.  Knowing his birthday was in December I had gone up on his blog to see what he had posted lately.  I was stunned and shocked when I read where he had died October 27th.  He children had posted the announcement of his passing.  How much I had enjoyed our writings and conversations.  He was so representative of a generation of men that gave us many of the freedoms we hold so dear.  His blog was filled with a lot of life lessons learned from a tumultuous time in our world. I  will continue to enjoy rereading his postings and value his shared thoughts from those experiences.   
I invite you to visit his blog and read his postings.  It is an amazing accounting of the D-Day Invasion of Normandy.

The following is an excerpt from one of his postings on Memorial Day.

What is a Vet?
He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating
two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run
out of fuel.

He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose
overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the
cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.

She (or he) is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep
sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another - or
didn't come back AT ALL.

He is the Parris Island drill instructor who has never seen combat but
has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and
gang members into Marines and teaching them to watch each other's backs.

He is the parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the three anonymous heroes in the Tomb of the Unknowns whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket - palsied now and aggravatingly slow - who helped liberate a Nazi death camp, or the old guy greeting you at Wal-Mart who watched from afar as the Viet Cong cut off the arms of children they had just vaccinated. And they wish all day long that their wives were still alive to hold them when the nightmares come.

He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being - a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darns, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.

So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say "thank you".  That's all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.

Two little words that mean a lot..."THANK YOU."

It's the soldier, not the reporter, who gave us our freedom of the press.
It's the soldier, not the poet, who gave us our freedom of speech.
It's the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gave us our freedom to demonstrate.
It's the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves others with respect for the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.
Just say "thank you", this Memorial Day."

I will miss him very much.  See you soon my friend!  Love you Elizabeth