Saturday, May 21, 2011

Memorial Dayme·mo·ri·al dayNoun 1. A day, the last Monday in May, on which those who died in active military service are remembered.

me·mo·ri·al dayNoun

1. A day, the last Monday in May, on which those who died in active military service are remembered.

With Memorial day soon approaching, I thought it appropriate to do a blog honoring the men and women who sacrificed their lives, so we may enjoy freedom.

I was at the nursing home the other day with my mom. She is in the last stages of Altziemer's and has no memory or recognition of her family. While passing the time, I chose a photo album she had on her shelves. The whole album was about a man she was engaged to before my dad. His name was Frederick N. Aldrich. Quite a handsome man. I had never looked at this album before and it intrigued me.

As I was looking through this album, it helped me understand what was actually going on in the war times and gave me a glimpse of some of the heart aches families had to go through.

Mom was engaged to Fred at the age of 18. In the 2nd year of their engagement, he was called to go over to Germany. He was in the airforce and was a fighter pilot.

In the albums were post cards and letters mom received from Fred and Fred's parents.

This was a form the military was given incase they didn't have time to write a letter, they could just check a box on how they were doing. I had never seen one of these and it was very unique. I also learned they were able to mail their letters and post cards for free.

On February 20th, 1944 my mom received her last post card from Fred. I can't even imagine as each day passed without correspondence the terror my mom was feeling. After about 6 weeks out, he was officially missing in action, and not long after that, the dreaded telegram arrived.

Fred's plane had been shot down in Germany. He survived the crash, but as 9 men exited the plane, the Germans shot them. In the album was a letter from the Government stating where he was found and instructions as how to get his body back to the states.

As a parent of 2 sons, I can't imagine getting this kind of news. How do you process this? How do you make any sense of this?

There were letters to my mom from his parents consoling my mom. In all their grief, they had the compassion to think of the loss my mom was feeling as his fiance. They were awarding Fred with the "Medal of Honor" posthumously. What mixed feelings had to be felt with this high honor. He gave his life for our freedom.

Included in the album were pictures of the actors , Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable. Jimmy Stewart led the mission that Fred was killed in.

Fred had a brother in the air force, also. His name was Charles Aldrich. Each time my parents went back to Rhode Island, they made it a point to visit Charles, his parents and Fred's grave in New Milford, Cn. There is a picture of my mom with Charles in 1944 and then in 1988.

This album touched my heart. It told a story of heartache and of honor. I am in the process of trying to find a relative of Fred's, because I know they would like to have all this documentation. His air force patch and his wings are in the album.

June 8, 2011, my parents will be married 65 years.
My mom started dating my dad about 8 months after Fred's death. He was in the Navy. Fred's parents wrote my mom telling her they were so happy for her and wanted to meet him. They sounded like wonderful people.

For the longest time, I never understand my mom's "fear of abandonment." Her mother walked out on her and her father at the age of 3. She lost her fiance in the war. Her father re-married and she died of cancer. My dad was in the Navy and had to go to sea for long periods of time leaving my mom with a infant son that had a potential fatal heart condition.

It took me 58 years to understand my mom. With age, comes knowledge. With knowledge, comes wisdom. With wisdom, comes understanding, and with understanding, comes compassion.

As Memorial Day approaches, I want to say "thank you" to all our military. To all the families that have lost a loved one, my heart goes out to you and I pray the peace of God surrounds you.

And to the Aldrich family, thank you for sharing your son with my mom and our country. Thank you for embracing my father and extending the love "of a son" to him. My heart breaks that you lost a loved one in the war. I pray I can somehow show my appreciation by getting this album to a loved one of your family. It will be an honor to meet you.

With heartfelt thanks,

Cindy Click, daughter of Gloria Hope Mann Boyd and Kenneth H. Boyd-US Navy

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