Each year, on one day in May, we are asked to commemorate the men and women who gave their lives in the service of our Nation. Americans of nearly every generation have given their lives in service to us.
We owe those who died, and their families, our eternal gratitude.
We can remember the fallen by the recognition of a few. Four men from
(this is not all-inclusive): Iroquois County
Jack Redman was a star athlete at
He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1943, after attending and
playing football for the Watseka
Community High School . Jack Redman was one of
1009 Marines who died on University
of Illinois Tarawa. Tarawa
was a horrific battle; the first in the Island Hopping Campaign. Until
recently, Jack Redman remained on Tarawa with about 130
of his comrades.
Like Jack Redman, Marion Pence knowingly volunteered for extremely hazardous duty. Pence entered the United States Army in 1942 and volunteered to become a paratrooper. He was assigned to the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the legendary 82nd Airborne Division. He was wounded on D-Day, within hours of parachuting into
He died of those wounds several days later. He rests in Gilman.
of Sheldon lost two sons. Charles and Bernard Hutchinson both entered the
United States Navy. I couldn’t find much
information about Bernard, except that he listed a young wife in Watseka as his
next-of-kin. Charles was listed as missing for more than sixty years. The
submarine on which he served was only recently found and identified.
We can learn the names of other
service members who died. For most, we can learn something of who they were.
What we cannot know, and we can only wonder, is who they might have been. In
his famous eulogy delivered on Iwo Jima, the Rabbi
Roland Gittelsohn said: “Under
one of these Christian crosses, or beneath a Jewish Star of David, there may
rest now a man who was destined to be a great prophet . . . to find the way,
perhaps, for all to live in plenty, with poverty and hardship for none . . .”
We live, and raise our children, in a world in which people hate us for being Americans. Yet, rather than pulling together and holding ourselves out as a people of peace and justice, we still divide ourselves on economic, racial, religious, political and other lines. Our discourse is often visceral to the point of absurdity - and mean to the point of stupidity.
I submit that our debt of gratitude to men and women like Jack Redman, Marion Pence, and the Hutchinsons must be repaid by more than a once-a-year observance. We should, in payment to them, treat each other with dignity and respect.
For more on Jack Redman see:
For more on Marion Pence see:
For more on Bernard and Charles Hutchinson see:
Rabbi Gittelsohn (a must read):