It was a menu much like one we’ll all have this week. Cooks in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, were serving up roast turkey, mashed potatoes, celery, pickles, and pie. But the soldiers on the other side of the table 98 years ago were wondering where they would celebrate the next holiday, or if they’d still be alive, after going across the pond to help the Allies in battle.
One troop, my grandfather, wrote to his sweetheart from Camp Shelby. Besides a quick review of the food, he told her of horseback training, officer’s school, and a football game he and his buddies had been to that afternoon between the teams of Indiana University and Army. It was “hard-fought from start to finish.”
The 25-year old captain would write often and receive many more letters himself at the southern town, so different from his Indiana farm home. He traveled to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for artillery school; and Camp Mills, Long Island, with his division, bound for France. But then, to his disappointment, he was called back to Mississippi to help train a development battalion.
After the war’s end he mustered out of the army, returning to the life of a farmer, married his sweetheart, and raised a family. Today he would be proud of his grandson who graduated from West Point, and great-grandson who finished four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Let us all be thankful for each soldier, retired, in training, or in active duty, who represents America on our behalf.