A Letter for Memorial Day

You may have noticed that my blog has been silent for a couple of weeks. I’ve had a lot of big things going on–some good, some bad.

First, the bad news. My Nanny Peardon died last Sunday. We were very close, and I lived with her off and on throughout my life. I even had my own room at Nanny’s house. We made crafts and sold them at craft shows for 10 years. (I even went to one last craft show the weekend before I left for college.)

Carl-Peardon,-WWII-Truck

Carl Peardon in front of his truck (Europe)

I’ve started going through her things and sorting them out for family members. My grandfather Peardon died when my dad was a teenager, so I never knew him, but I found some of his things in an old cedar chest in a closet. One of things I found was a letter from the Army.

My grandfather was a supply truck driver (and mechanic) in Europe during WWII. He was honorably discharged December 4, 1945. Apparently, as part of the discharge ceremony, a speech was given to the troops, and then it was later typed up and given to them to take home.

I think this is a wonderful message–not just for that generation of men , but for all generations of Americans.  So, on this Memorial Day weekend–which is supposed to be about remembering the men and women who died for our country and our freedom, not about going swimming, grilling hamburgers, or shopping until you drop–I thought I would share it with you.

ARMY SERVICE FORCES
Fifth Service Command
Separation Center
Fort Knox, Kentucky

Below you will find a copy of the message delivered to you as a part of the Final Ceremony of Separation from the Service.

“You are being discharged from the Army today—from your Army. It is your Army because your skill and your patriotism, your labor and courage and devotion have been some of the factors which make it great. You have been a member of the finest military team in history. You have accomplished miracles in battle and supply. Your country is proud of you and you have every right to be proud of yourselves.

“You have seen, in the lands where you worked and fought and where many of your comrades died, what happens when the people of a nation lose interest in their government. You have seen what happens when they follow false leaders. You have seen what happens when a nation accepts hate and intolerance.

Carl-Peardon-WWII-uniform

Carl Peardon
(Year unknown, but he appears to be wearing his full compliment of medals, so probably 1945.)

“We all are determined that what happened in Europe and Asia must not happen to our country. Back in civilian life you will find that your generation will be called upon to guide our country’s destiny. Opportunity for leadership is yours. The responsibility is yours. The nation which depended on your courage and stamina to protect it from its enemies now expects you as individuals to claim your right of leadership, a right which you earned honorably and which is well deserved.

 “Start being a leader as soon as you put on your civilian clothes. If you see intolerance and hate, speak out against them. Make your individual voices heard, not for selfish things, but for honor and decency among men, for the right of all people.

“Remember, too, that No American can afford to be disinterested in any part of his government, whether it is county, city, state, or nation.

“Choose your leaders wisely—that is the way to keep ours the county for which you fought. Make sure that those leaders are determined to maintain peace throughout the world. You know what war is. You know that we must not have another. As individuals you can prevent it if you give to the task which lies ahead the same spirit which you displayed in uniform.

“Accept that trust and the challenge which it carries. I know that the people of America are counting on you. I know that you will not let them down.

“Goodbye to each and everyone one of you and to each and every one of you, good luck!

GEORGE D WAHL
Brigadier General, U.S. Army
Commanding

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3 comments on “A Letter for Memorial Day

  1. Keri, this is a wonderful post. I’m very sorry for your loss. You were fortunate to be so close with your grandmother. That letter is so great and uplifting. I wonder if there is anything like it given today. I’m saddened to think there is not.

    • Keri Peardon says:

      When I found it, I gave it to my husband to read. He said that it was “the greatest call to action” he had ever heard.

      I think WWII was a pretty unique experience for America and Americans, so it will always be hard–if not impossible–to replicate it, but I think we’re still capable of producing inspiring and uplifting addresses. Although in an entirely different vein, I think Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech–itself a call to action, but addressing art rather than leadership–is truly inspiring and uplifting.

      I wonder if it’s always been hard to write inspiring things–meaning that few people can do it–or if it could be more commonplace, but it’s gone out of fashion?

      • I wonder if the past generation or two – the *me* generation – is so focused on themselves, they don’t think to be encouraging or inspiring to others. I’m listening to the Neil Gaiman speech now. Love it!

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