Today, June 25th, 2010, is the 60th Anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. Yet, you see almost no media attention, remembrances, almost nothing. So many brave souls lived and died in service to this country.
My grandfather served in WWII, the Korean War, and volunteered for Vietnam. When they told him he was too old for Nam he did everything he could to convince them otherwise. He was furious when they wouldn’t budge.
He is 89 years old now and still with us, Thank God. He is the quintessential “hard-ass”. A man with a good heart, a real tough exterior, and some nasty demons that still haunt him. He doesn’t talk much about his time at war. If he does, it’s typically a silly story about something that happened involving friends, or a dog. My grandmother told me that his best friend died in his arms during the war (not sure if it was WWII or Korea) and he was never quite the same she said.
When I was a little kid I remember how Grandma wouldn’t make certain recipes because they contained rice and Grandpa wouldn’t eat rice. I asked him why and he would say in a gruff voice, “I just don’t like it.” I would say, “Why PawPaw, it’s just rice?” And he would say, “I just don’t.”
Later in private, Gram told me that where PawPaw was stationed during the Korean war there were many starving children. She said he came home from the war terribly thin. He had given his rations away everyday to begging children. Some were no bigger than toddlers and he would spoon feed them. He had to be careful and sneak his food away because they weren’t supposed to give away their food. Some superiors knew and turned a blind eye, but others would have been very upset had he gotten caught. Not out of cruelty, but just because they didn’t want their men collapsing from lack of nutrition. He told my grandmother that he just couldn’t eat knowing there were so many hungry children nearby. So he continued this process of giving away his food whenever possible, and he lived on mostly rice alone. Rice (unlike other more nutritious foods) was plentiful in the area.
My Grandpa is a very tall, big broad shouldered man. When he returned home from Korea he was so very thin. And he told my Grandma that he would never eat rice again.
He said, “I cannot look at rice and not think of hungry babies.”
Today he’s 89 years old and still hasn’t touched another bite of rice.
If you would like more information about our veterans and Korean children www.koreanchildren.org is a good place to start.
If you can find a veteran today, please take a moment and thank them for their service.