WWII Veteran's Medals Arrive 66 Years Late But Just in Time for Veterans Day

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flagI can't be the only American who could use a little Veterans Day pick-me-up. So let's dig in, shall we? A World War II veteran was finally awarded his military medals, 66 years after he was honorably discharged from the US Army.

Oh, and even better news: it was two of Aloysius “Al” Erker's grandsons who made sure their veteran granddad was honored for what he did for our great country. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Daniel Erker and U.S. Marine Corp Lt. Col. Kevin Erker learned their grandpa was owed a total of five medals for the time he spent in Africa and Europe during the war. They weren't going to let him be forgotten!

To me, that's exactly what Veterans Day is about. Making sure our young remember those who went before them, who sacrificed for them (for us).

The young Erkers made sure 92-year-old Al got his American Defense Service Medal, European - Middle East - African Service Medals with Bronze Arrowhead, and the Good Conduct Medal, and he's being hailed for his service in his hometown of Boston, New York this week because of it. A write-up in his town newspaper proved people still hold dear the people who served even more than half a century ago.

Excuse me for getting a little emotional here, but I wanted to pump my fists and do a little dance on Mr. Erker's behalf. Since 1954, November 11 has been a national holiday set aside to mark the sacrifice of every man and woman who has served in our armed forces. But it's started to feel like just another day American kids get to stay home from school.

Maybe it's a symptom of the time of year? We've just finished Halloween, and we're rushing around to get the halls decked for Thanksgiving. A day off of work becomes an errand day for cleaning the house before the in-laws arrive.

Maybe it's because -- unlike Memorial Day -- there aren't places to visit on Veterans Day. There are no gravesites to adorn with flags. And in much of the country, it's too cold for parades.

Explanations, but not excuses. Veterans Day is among our most necessary holidays, because it pays tribute to the men and women who are still here to receive our thanks. It's our job to make sure they know that no matter how much time passes, they're still heroes in our eyes.

Who will you be honoring this Veterans Day?

 

Image via dcJohn/Flickr

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RaeAn... RaeAnne.USAF

I will be honoring my Great-grandfather Jimmy Mills Army WWII, grandfather Clyde Smith Army Korea, great-uncles James USAF, David USAF, and Ralph Army Korea, my father Ray Smith Army Vietnam, cousin Mark Taylor USMC Gulf War, big brother David Berry USMC Afghanstan, and the rest of my extended family that has served but never deployed.

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