Archive for Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Editorial: World War II veterans a special breed

June 27, 2001

It is interesting how a majority of World War II veterans view their contribution to their county. Joining the service was simply what they did. It was the way it was.

And when they came home, many of them rarely talked about it. Sometimes, they'd mention it, and their family would hang on every word, hungry for details about what that war was really like.

But probably most family members and most friends wouldn't really want to know what those World War II veterans know: War is hell. It is unimaginable to those of us who stay behind. And it leaves an indelible mark upon all who are touched by it.

And so, at this time of year, when we celebrate our patriotism by blowing up fireworks made in a foreign country, it is fitting to think about the veterans of World War II. In particular, it is fitting to think about what Richard Rasdall was doing about noon on July 4, 1943, when his B-17 bomber was shot down off the coast of France. And it's fitting to think about the next 23 months in Rasdall's life, as he kept himself together to survive until he was liberated by American troops.

It's wonderful that this Jefferson County man's contributions to his country finally have been publically recognized, with the awarding on Sunday of the Purple Heart and of the Prisoner of War medal. All who worked to ensure that Rasdall got his proper due should be applauded for their efforts.

But Rasdall knows probably better than most that it's not the medals that were pinned above his heart that really matter.

What really matters is that he came home, a survivor of that terrible war that claimed the lives of so many young American men and women who joined the service because it was the thing to do.

Thank you, Richard Rasdall. And thank you, all veterans of all wars.

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