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Welma Emily Koether
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"You were my brother! You should have taken better care of me."

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A couple of years back, I was honored with an Honor Trip to Washington, D.C. to visit our monuments and institutions in recognition of my service in the Korean War. I even got the honor of laying the wreath on the Unknown Soldier Monument.

As I stood there during the laying, I looked out at the almost infinite landscape of simple white tombstones. I thought about all of the twenty-year-old lives cut short of a future, and all of the eternal grief of the dozens in their families who survived. I further thought of the principles of our government which went into the choice of their death.

These were souls who felt that our Republic was worth putting their lives and bodies in “harms way” for. They also had the understanding that our leaders in Washington would have the honor, wisdom and integrity to make the critical decision to measure the value of their offered lives against the value of the United States’ survival.

Among the infinity of grave stones before me were 9,000 who landed in the first few hours to instant death with very little chance of surviving D-Day.

As one of the fewer and fewer people who still remember, I thought of this on our D-Day Remembrance (last month). I also remembered my Honor Day a few year ago. After the wreath ceremony, we were bussed back to Washington, past the Houses of Congress, where the triviality being debated was whether a cash payment made to a hooker was a campaign contribution. I visualized the shadows of the buried beneath those gravestones rising up beside the crosses and saying, “For shame, for shame! Is this the country that you sacrificed us for? If you all in Congress do not change, then you have betrayed us! You are our brothers, you should have taken better care of us.”

-Jerry Kraft

Sgt., U.S. Army, Korea 1953-1955