Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Band of Brothers

On this day in 1918, what was ostensibly “the war to end all wars” came to an end. Within a quarter century, the next great war (to end all wars) was underway. Since that day nearly a century ago, people in various countries throughout the world pause to remember those living and deceased, who either are or were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice. And while preparations are underway for this evening's celebration in the Nation's capital, in cities and towns and hamlets across that Nation, families will retrieve their memories of those gone by.

This photograph was taken in the parlor of the house at 519 Culvert Street, in Sidney, Ohio, around 1950. The second great war had ended, and another one in the Pacific was to settle the yet-unfinished business. By then it was considered a man's duty to volunteer, whatever the outcome. This house gave four of its sons. The father was saved from both world wars, as tool and die factory workers were considered essential to the war effort. As the boys came of age, they answered the call in his stead. From left to right, standing, they are Raymond Alexander (uncle and godfather), Francis Alexander (uncle), and Paul Alexander (father). Seated is the older brother, the only officer among them, Virgil Alexander (uncle).

Raymond saw action in Korea, as part of an artillery battery unit, and the horror of that experience remained with him for the rest of his life. Francis ended up in a unit where his brother Virgil was his commanding officer. Shortly after his arrival, the younger brother was called into the older brother's office. “Look, sooner or later, everybody’s gonna find out you’re my kid brother, so there’s one of two ways we can handle this. I can give you favorable treatment, and the other guys will hate your guts, or I can ride you harder than any man under my command, and you’ll get along just fine. So, I’ll tell you how it’s gonna be …” Francis got along just fine.

Dad had left the seminary two or three years earlier, and had already finished his studies at Xavier University in Cincinnati. Having been deferred from the previous conflict while in the seminary, he signed on to the then-newly created United States Air Force, through the 123rd Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron of the Ohio Air National Guard.

Dad passed away two and a half years ago, following Raymond and Virgil. Only the youngest brother, Francis, remains. All men gave some, and some men gave all. And so we remember.


mommamia said...

Great article Cousin Dave.

David L Alexander said...

And which cousin are you?

David L Alexander said...

Is that you, Denise?