Reliving memories has to be painful
I was busy trying to photograph and video the July Fourth Line in the Sand Freedom Rally in Rehoboth Beach and not paying much attention to what was happening behind me. As World War II veteran Art Lane began to speak, I noticed a woman out of the corner of my eye inching up closer to take photos.
As Lane spoke about his heroic exploits in France during 1944, I noticed the woman was crying. “It's my dad,” she said.
He talked about how his unit captured 100 German soldiers without firing a shot. He talked about the sacrifices young boys made; he spoke about how his unit was decorated with high honors in both countries. I asked her: “Have you ever heard these stories before?”
“This is the first time,” she responded.
It's that way for many families who have members from the Greatest Generation. Thanks to a national movement and thanks to people like Sussex County's own James Diehl many of those memories are getting written down and recorded.
Still, many more memories will fade away as veterans pass on. The emotional pain veterans of all wars suffer is something most of us can't begin to understand. Many simply choose not to talk about it.
To Lane's credit, he announced he is joining with other local vets to form a mentoring program to help younger veterans find meaningful employment. "Not just flipping hamburgers," he said.
Lane faced tough odds when he returned home as a disabled vet with serious hearing problems. He said he received a hand-up to become a success. Now, it's his turn to return the favor.