First, the video out of Parkersburg…wow. We were watching some raw Chopper 13 footage last night while keeping an eye on the radar, and of course they have more video now that it’s light out again. There is just nothing left in that part of town. It’s gone. You get accustomed to seeing tornado damage from smaller tornados, that take one house, but leave another, that pull off roofs and throw cars around, but you don’t often see damage that just has left an entire section of town basically a bunch of rubble. The trees are denuded, the houses are just piles of wood.
I found myself trying to put myself in the place of those families last night, and I couldn’t. I could not even imagine what it would be like to huddle in your basement, hearing the storm, then come out to…nothing…where your house used to be.
As a side note, Randy loves to watch Twister when it’s stormy, but we’ve already watched it about twice this spring, and I can’t stand it any more. I mean, could there be a stupider movie? Oh, yes, we can just drive right over this bridge while there are cows flying through the air in front of us and a) it’s possible that a cow will just be flying in the air on wind, completely upright and seemingly unbothered and b) that same wind won’t affect us in the truck at all… Oh, sure, let’s just hang on to this metal pipe with these leather straps and we’ll be fine while an F5 tornado passes right over us. Further, we’re on a HILL. We don’t get beat up by flying debis (which kills a LOT of people in tornados). Anyway. We didn’t watch it last night.
Second, Memorial Day. Military stuff always makes me sad, honestly to the point that I’ve tried to really not expose myself to it this year, because I don’t need more sadness now. This year, I reconnected with a friend I had lost touch with for a few years, and found out her brother was killed in Iraq a year ago this week. Her family is struggling this weekend.
In a family without a military history, the closest I have personally come was my sister’s first husband’s hardship tour in S Korea. He was in danger, but not like what is happening today.
I wish I’d been able to hear more of my grandfather’s stories from WWII. He had some good ones…about 18-20 year old kids runnning amuck in France, the capers his men got into, and about battles, too. But it was a rare day that he would discuss it, particularly anything about war. My aunt – his youngest – does not know much, either.
I did learn that he qualified for a purple heart due to injuries he sustained from friendly fire. They were not severe injuries, but he did take a bullet and spent some time in the hospital. But he refused the medal, strongly feeling that his injury really shouldn’t count – his men had received real battle injuries, and how could he accept a purple heart for taking a bullet from another American? Then the war ended. And he found himself short the necessary number of points to go home – short by the same number he would have received if he’d taken that medal. There’s irony for you. So he and the other men from his unit who also didn’t get to go home stayed in France to help with recovery efforts. This is apparently when they got into most of their trouble. I can still hear him nearly speechless with laughter as he told us how he and some other guys were assigned to go into town to obtain a barrell of wine for a party. They uncorked it halfway home to help themselves then, drunk or at least toasty, tried to put all the pieces of cork back in the barrell and didn’t think anyone would notice.
At any rate. Please do something to remember those who serve our country today. I’m not sure what we’ll do. I was thinking about going to the WWII ceremony today at 2 at the Capitol, but ultimately decided that, with Wally recently asking questions about where Namie went again, I didn’t want him to be at yet another ceremony and think that yet another person had died. I know our family in northern Iowa’s going to a WWII memorial ceremony today – each year, they do something special to honor those who have died during the year and then the VFW will also set my grandfather’s gravestone.