Friday, December 23, 2005

Fallen Heroes

They're going pretty fast, those old soldiers from WWII. On the twelfth of December, Eli died. He was a third year student in The Citadel when his entire class was inducted into the military. They were trained and made officers. Eli was assigned to General Patton as his invasion of France was being prepared. Eli knew something about the General, since his older brother had served as Patton’s HQ Commandant since 1942 through the invasion of North Africa. Patton promoted his brother three times.
Of course Eli was not going to work for Patton as his brother had. He was going to be one of those expendable second lieutenants whose losses were so great in the 69th Infantry Division. But he did his full duty.

Eli swept through France and Belgium into Germany leading his men into battle as he went, attaining the rank of major. The Fighting 69th was the group that came up Buchenwald concentration camp.

Somehow Eli survived the bullets and was able to return home to central Kentucky in one piece. He got his degree at the University of Kentucky and was a framer who raised race horses and five kids. He did not whine or carp at his government for bad treatment or sympathize with the enemy.. He just carried on as normal a live as he could, passing away at the age of 83. What more can a country ask of its citizens?

There is no way Americans can repay its wartime soldiers, the often-forgotten heroes that quietly go about their business. But perhaps we can recognize Major Eli O. Jackson, Jr., for the hero that he was.

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