I do not know why the graves of veterans of wars so move me. Perhaps it is because I never served and I feel guilty about that. “My” war would have been Vietnam, but those were the days of the draft lottery and my year of primary eligibility I had a high number and was not called. I later almost enlisted, but by then the war was over and a friend of mine who was in the military told me that for a family man (which I was at the time), it wasn’t a good idea. So I never did serve.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t respect those who did serve. I do – I hold tremendous respect for the men and women who have put on the uniform of our country – whether in wartime or peace. One of the greatest honors of my life was shaking hands with an old man who had stormed the beach at Iwo Jima during the WW2 landing. It isn’t every day that you meet a genuine hero.
While shooting in Oakland Cemetery, I came across this scene just as I was about to leave to return home. It was very simple – nothing at all like the fancy mausolea that were never really out of eye sight. Yet, this simple marker, and the markers of the thousands of Civil War dead, moved me far more than the fancy stone and rock buildings erected to house the earthly remains of those of means who are also buried at Oakland. I noticed that he died shortly after the end of the war and I couldn’t help but wonder if he died as the result of injuries received during the war – whether physical or emotional.
Edgar N. Nichols, may you rest in peace.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1943, the Battle of Kursk, involving some 6,000 tanks, two million men, and 5,000 aircraft, ended with the German offensive repulsed by the Soviets at heavy cost.
In early July, Germany and the USSR concentrated their forces near the city of Kursk in western Russia, site of a 150-mile-wide Soviet pocket that jutted 100 miles into the German lines. The German attack began on July 5, and 38 divisions, nearly half of which were armored, began moving from the south and the north. However, the Soviets had better tanks and air support than in previous battles, and in bitter fighting Soviet antitank artillery destroyed as much as 40 percent of the German armor, which included their new Mark VI Tiger tanks. After six days of warfare concentrated near Prokhorovka, south of Kursk, the German Field Marshal Gunther von Kluge called off the offensive, and by July 23 the Soviets had forced the Germans back to their original positions.
In the beginning of August, the Soviets began a major offensive around the Kursk salient, and within a few weeks the Germans were in retreat all along the eastern front.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Because the movieHalloween (1978) was on such a tight budget, they had to use the cheapest mask they could find for the character Michael Meyers, which turned out to be a William ShatnerStar Trek mask. Shatner initially didn’t know the mask was in his likeness, but when he found out years later, he said he was honored.