By Michael Gardner
World War II meant a lot to me, even though I was born 17 years after it ended. The war had shaped my families life, like no other event. My father was drafted into the US Army in 1942. My Uncle Len was already in military service after being drafted in 1940 and went on to fight in the Pacific theater. I remember my Mother telling me how she followed my Father from camp to camp during his Army training, always taking their one year old daughter with her. Then, saying goodbye to him as he went off to fight in Europe, never knowing if he would return. He fought bravely as a rifleman under General Patton in the US Third Army group.
Thank God, after victory in Europe, he came home in one piece. Physically, my Father was the same man, but not psychologically. I tried to get him to talk about it, but he never would. He was a good man, a loving Father, and raised six children, but the war would never leave him. The old soldier passed away eleven years ago.
I watched the great celebrations that took place in Moscow to mark the end of the Second World War. It was fitting that we remember the men and women who sacrificed all to win the war, so many giving the ultimate sacrifice, their own lives. It was also fitting to have this ceremony of honor, in the place that was the very epicenter of sacrifice, Russia. No nation paid a higher human cost than her, during the war.
When I heard our US government was not going to send a delegation to Moscow for the 70th anniversary victory celebrations, I was very angry. It was an insult to the men of all the Allied Forces who fought and died in Europe. Their sacrifice was ignored because of petty politics by the US government. Many of us here in the US are ashamed by this boycott of such an honorable event.
The victory celebrations are over. The parades have finished. The veterans returned to their homes. Russia has proudly remembered all brave heroes of the war. I was not able to see the spectacle in person this year, but I was moved by what I saw in Moscow, and it made me decide to do something I never thought of doing before. US government boycott or not, I will be in Moscow in 2020 for the 75th anniversary victory celebration and I will carry a picture of my father, Corporal James P Gardner, and honor all those who fought in the Great Patriotic War.
Michael P Gardner