Happy Veterans Day

Today is Veterans Day. Also, yesterday was the 232nd anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps. Both occasions give me an opportunity to reflect once again on the military service of my maternal grandfather, Giff Loomer, who fought in the Pacific theater as a lieutenant in the 2nd Marine Division during World War II. I blogged about this at length back in September, and the post, to my surprise and delight, was Instalanched.

I don’t really have anything to add to that post — if you missed it, I’d just recommend that you go back and read it — but I did want to blog a few pictures of Grandpa and me that my mom recently scanned and sent me:

Those photos are from 1981, 1984 and 1986, respectively. (In the last photo, I’m with my cousin Alexis, making airplanes with Grandpa.) Sadly, Grandpa — who was the most hale and hardy of my grandparents, and seemed destined to live well into my teenage years if not longer — died in 1991, before my tenth birthday, due to an unlikely cascade of complications from surgery. As a result, I never got to know him through an adult’s eyes, or talk to him about the things we might have talked about when I got older… including, perhaps, his war experiences. He was reluctant to talk about them at all, but as one e-mailer said in response to my September post, “The key, I think, is for them to live long enough, and you get old enough, that you can spend an evening drinking and talking with them.” Alas, Grandpa and I never had that chance.

Anyway, God Bless Grandpa Loomer and God Bless all the brave men and women who have put their lives on the line to defend our nation and our freedom.

5 Responses to “Happy Veterans Day”

  1. Wobbly H says:

    Brenners,

    Thanks so much for this post and the link to the previous post, which was absolutely moving. My grandfather also was a Marine who served in the Pacific. It seems common for those who served to be proud of their service but reluctant to speak of their experiences. I have been fortunate enough to be able to come into contact with other WWII vets who knew my grandfather and get information on his proud service to the country. The sacrifices that members of that generation made are astounding.

    Thanks again for linking to the post. Happy Veteran’s Day, and God bless those who have served in our country’s services.

  2. David K. says:

    Its truly sad that so many of the WWII generation are passing away with so many stories left to tell. My grandfather was a bridge builder in the Army Corps of Engineers in the European theater, mostly Germany. He, along with 5 of his brothers all went and all came home. The surprising thing i learned is that the Corps had some of the highest casualty rates, since they were often at the forefront laying down the bridges while the main body of troops and armored vehicles were trailing behind, leaving the engineers largely unprotected.

    I am so proud he was my grandfather and I miss him after his recent passing. I only wish i had had more time when i was older to learn from him. It truly was amazing though as he had an honor guard at his burial including a live bugler. If any of you have parents or grandparents who have earned such an honor for their service make sure to make the arrangements to have them get such deserved recognition.

  3. Leanna Loomer says:

    Brendan,

    I’m not sure if we ever told you, but your dad’s grandpa, Joe McNamara, served in and suffered from the war that gave Veteran’s Day its date. Three countries, England, France, and Germany, were bled white, losing one-tenth of their entire populations during 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, and 1918 in that war. In one single, horrific battle, 100,000 men lost their lives. J. R. R. Tolkien, who fought in that war, later wrote, “By 1918, all but one of my friends were dead.” Originally and for long afterwards, the day was called Armistice Day, because on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of that year the World War finally and mercifully ended.

    I happened to be in France on its 50th anniversary, and it was on my mind at the time. I saw no parades, and no particular mention at all, even though most of the battlefields (and many of the cemeteries) of that time are on French soil, and even though an entire generation there was lost during those five years. On November 11th, 1968 I saw a single French soldier walking along the roadside. That seemed sufficient unto the day at that time and in that place.

    Our Joe McNamara came home with his lungs damaged by the gas used in trench warfare. We were told that weakened his heart, leading to his untimely death. Our country suffered fewer casualties, but numbers meant nothing to families that lost fathers, husbands and sons.

    And sweethearts. From a song inspired by that time: “…though you died back in 1915, in some faithful heart, are you forever nineteen?”

  4. Joe Mama says:

    Amen, Amen, Amen.

    And David, you are exactly right that the Army Corps of Engineers had some of the highest casualty rates in WWII, for precisely the reasons you mention. My father was an engineer in Vietnam, when the Corps suffered similarly high casualty rates.