Sunday, May 24, 2009
The above is the grave marker of my great uncle Jack (not short for anything) Walker from the Rome-Sicily Cemetery. He made it through Anzio Beach to die a few days later in October 1943 killed by a mortar. Why did he give "his last full measure"? Why would an East Texas born West Texas dirt farmer farm boy go to Italy to die for his country? He joined before being drafted and was in a Texas Battalion. Did he fight for liberty, autonomy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Probably on some meta-level. Did he fight for his buddies on the front lines? Probably when push came to shove he fought harder for them than for anyone else.
I never knew Uncle Jack obviously. He died before my grandparents even met. He died before my grandfather had become a tailgunner in a B-17. My grandfather and his brothers idolized Jack. They always talked about him. If my grandfather -- one of my heroes -- idolized Jack then he must've been one helluva guy.
Why did he fight? Why is a little bit of West Texas buried in Italy? All of the above reasons I am certain. I also like to think he fought for this reason too:
Part of this Memorial Day will be telling about Uncle Jack and Papa and my Uncle L.E. who fought in Saipan and my Uncle Leslie flying bombers during the Berlin Airlift.... They fought for my little Sabrina (and Joshua and Zachary) -- and they didn't even know....