This past Memorial Day an old memory of my father came back into focus. It had to do with his World War II military service. I think this collection of thoughts came about as I imagined the feelings of families whose loved ones have died while in uniform. Thinking about their losses recalled my father’s circumstances as a draftee right at the end of that war.
Ed Sitze was already married and the father of two toddlers when he was drafted into the Army infantry. Although the Allies had defeated Hitler’s forces, the war in the Pacific was not over. Military and political leaders had decided to invade Japan, and so my soldier-father was on a troop ship headed toward that massive undertaking—estimated to cost over a millions casualties. We now know that President Truman decided to use the horrific force of atomic weaponry to end the fight. *But at that time my father—and men like him—knew only that they were to be part of an epic battle like no other.
Neither he nor my mother ever spoke of the premonitions or fears they must have faced when he headed off to war. They kept those kinds of feelings to themselves. My parents’ sacrifices were similar to the privations they had experienced during the Great Depression. Their memories of those years must certainly have helped them deal with the hardships they faced during the war.
I write these thoughts to remember—and follow—the example of my parents’ faith-fueled determination to persevere in spite of dire circumstances. So that I do not lose trust in God’s care as this nation careens through the doubled disasters of a pandemic and economic crisis.
A necessary perspective for my soul.
*Postscript: When the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan—effectively crushing all further resistance—my father’s unit was diverted to Manila, where he completed his term of service as a staff sergeant repatriating American POW’s.