My home town of Luverne, MN got some press many years ago as one of the communities featured in the Ken Burns documentary The War. There is a Veteran’s nursing home, as well as a really nice military museum in the courthouse. I believe my paternal grandfather’s First World War gas mask is displayed there. He served in with the US Army Engineering Corps in France. When my cousins and I were young we would play with that gas mask and take turns wearing it. It was pretty weird and fascinating. Luverne loves its veterans.

Today I will mail an application as well as a 8 x10 photo of my father in his Second World War Army Air Corps uniform to the Luverne Chamber of Commerce so that his photo and rank can be displayed on a banner on Main Street. The Chamber is putting up 82 banners of veterans on all the lamp posts. They also do this every year for the graduating high school seniors. I think this is swell.

Any veterans in your families? Whose faces would you want to see on banners on the lampposts in your town?

35 thoughts on “Banners”

  1. I’m originally from Los Angeles, and am a Vietnam Veteran. My father was a resident of Los Angeles when he served in the second world war. I doubt that the city will be hoisting banners with individual veteran’s pictures and names on them, because there are just too many veterans there. However, I don’t think anyone wants to see our faces painting the breeze, neither there, nor in a place like Luverne.

    In 2019, a manufacturing company and the local newspaper where I now reside in Michigan sponsored a “prominent veterans” contest with prizes and invited people to make nominations. Unfortunately, the nominations were all available for the public to look at. Some were very clumsily written, so I wrote a better one, for myself. I got one of the prizes… unfortunately, not the free beer at the brewery one.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. No amount of free beer, I’m sure, will erase the trauma of serving in any military conflict, Aboksu. The war in Vietnam was particularly fraught. Veterans from most previous wars returned home – whether dead or alive – as heroes; no such welcome for the young men who returned from that debacle.

      I don’t know what your particular experience was, but I can imagine that it was instrumental in shaping the man you have become, one way or another. Would you care to share your winning entry into the contest? I’d like to see it.

      I know that I should at least be able to say a sincere “Thank you for your service,” but honestly, I’m still too distraught about the senseless sacrifices so many made then – and unfortunately continue to make – and for what? Thank you, a few banners, a monument here and there, and a parade seem like such empty gestures that won’t absolve us from carnage we aren’t willing to stop.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    Renee, that is such a wonderful way to remember your dad. I think one of my uncles near Pipestone was involved in the Burns project but was never on camera. At one point they took many of those vets to Washington DC as part of the project, or another similar thing, then a ceremony honoring the WWII vets and at least one uncle participated in that. Many uncles and my dad’s cousin all served in WWII: one in the Alaskan islands, one in Germany during the last several years of the war, one in England, two in the Navy in Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, Father-in-law served in the North Pacific on a Navy supply shift. Most of my friend’s fathers also served. My dad signed up for the Korean Conflict but was rejected because he failed the neurological test, which meant he already had symptoms of MS in his early 20s. An uncle served in Korea and was highly decorated. The weird part of all this was that they rarely discussed it. One uncle chronically was in conflict with his brother because of who was chosen to serve. One already had children and was farming so he was exempted and the other one who served never forgave him. We just knew they served because of this conflict and there were pictures of them in uniform (mostly wedding pictures) or obvious injuries. Uncle Jim let us wear his Navy hat.

    As I wended my way through the family tree ten years ago, I found 2 veterans of the Civil War and over 30 veterans of the American Revolution (2 British mercenaries conscripted at age 14 from Germany/Belgium who then took American citizenship by switching to the American side), and 3 veterans of the War of 1812. The funniest situation I found with that was that one Pennsylvania family, the Hammachers, had 8 sons all named Johannes. The sons went by their middle names (Peter, Christian, Isaac, Adamus etc), but all eight of them served in the same Revolutionary regiment from 1776-1783 under the name John Hammacher and under one service ticket (the little piece of paper they all carried and that is copied as proof all over the Ancestry website). So when one descendent tried to join the DAR they would not let her join because she was descended from the “undocumented” Johannes Christian Hammacher. The ticket only documented Johannes Adamus Hammacher, the eldest. They passed it from one brother to the next as they each matured and marched off to battle. Then they returned home and married and passed it off to the next Johannes. Eight for the price of one, I guess.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Dad went on an Honor flight to Washington DC in his late 80’s with a group of other veteransfrom Rock County. . It was the only time he had been in a plane since his last bomber mission in 1944.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Dad was Air Force 49-57. No Korean action.
    One uncle was a munitions handler with an anti-aircraft unit, Patton’s Third Army. The German Luftwaffe had been mostly destroyed so his unit never did fire their weapons in action. He was pleased with that.
    Mussolini’s “banner” ended upside down from a lamppost. Maybe that could be done symbolically to certain politicians.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I have no relatives on the main lines of my families who fought in Civil or Revolutionary Wars. They were not here, well, some were arriving during the Civil War but did not fight. Even my new Scots family can be seen online and they were not here either. My father was in the navy in WWII but was too old to be in combat or near it. He was even quickly mustered out because. He had three children. My mother’s older brother flew in RCAF. None of her other brothers were drafted. Not sure why. Two could have been in Korea but were not. Then of course became right wing super patriots. My father’s half brother tried to enlist in WWII but his left arm was damaged in a farm accident. My mother’s twin brothers, almost the same age as my brother, were not drafted at a point when all men were drafted or enlisted. They were not the super patriots of their older brothers. So you see I come from a line of solid shirkers. I avoided Viet Nam by a few lottery numbers. My ex-brother enlisted in the navy and left right out of high school. He got a very high security clearance and worked in coding and decoding on Adak and in Japan and then in Washington for four years. Then he joined the state department and did the same sort of thing with some very high profile people for five years. He was and I suppose still is a right wing super patriot.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I am willing to honor those who died and those who fought in wars that became necessary through evil, stupidity or arrogance of great men. I am even willing to honor those who did the same in stupid wars, especially wars in which the US had no business except business. I suppose like nearly all I wonder what I would have done in WWII. I know seven of the names on the wall, including one of the closest friends I ever had who knew me better than anyone else. But be he enlisted as an officer suddenly long before the draft without explaining to any of us after being a very active protestor. Men go to war as very complicated beings after all.

        Liked by 6 people

        1. I will honor as well. But I remain a Conscientious Objector. My 1970 draft number was too high to be taken. I would have been selected for jail.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. Essentially, I agree with you both, Clyde and Wes. I absolutely honor those who have served, and I recognize that many of them have sacrificed a great deal in doing what they saw as their duty. This is true whether they joined the armed forces in a patriotic zeal or had grave misgivings about the cause.

          I also honor those who took a strong stance against it, and sometimes paid a high price for doing so. It’s hard to take a stance that will cause conflict with most of the people around you, perhaps even your own family.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. No one in my family served during Vietnam, Korea, or WWI (that I know of). In WWII my dad Ralph, his brother Lee, and my mom’s brothers Luverne and Ernest served. Dad and Ernie were in the Army Air Force, Luverne in the Army, and Lee was in the Navy. Luverne died in France in 1944 (according to the information I found on Ancestry, in the Battle of the Hedgerows). He got a Star, but I forget if it was Bronze or Silver. Dad was one of three guys who signed up right after Pearl Harbor and reupped to stay in the Air Force for 20 years. Lee made it home but died in 1946 in a farming accident. On dad’s side of the family, four brothers served in Union Army; I believe it was the youngest brother who died. I also know of one ancestor who died in the Revolutionary War, at Quebec.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. My dad tried to tell them when enlisting during WWII that he had stomach ulcers, but they thought he was “goldbricking”, and ended up being honorably discharged when they found he got sick too often… he did receive Veterans’ benefits. His brother Ralph was a Marine and was on Iwo Jima, had terrible flashbacks when bedridden at the end of his life.

    Our trip to France in 2015 was because they were installilng a new plaque honoring the Americans who “saved” the village St. Pere en Retz, near St. Nazaire – my mom’s older brother Bobby had piloted the plane. My mom’s youngest brother, my favorite Uncle Bud, was also in the Air Force, in Korea, and became a lifer, retiring for several years before he died in 1991.

    My dad’s family had lived with his great aunt, whom they called Grandma Duea – she had married the much older Jonas Duea, who was a Civil War veteran.

    Liked by 6 people

  7. My Great Uncle Albert was described as serving under General Pershing and as chasing Pancho Villa all over Arizona and New Mecico. My dad’s brother was in the navy in WWII and sailed up the Yangtze River.

    When my dad was a boy in the 1920’s he was talking to a neighbor who had only one leg. He lost his leg at Gettysburg.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. It really helps to put a face to war when you meet and talk with someone who has experienced it first hand. I think that’s why the war in Vietnam is so “real” to those of my generation.

      I can imagine the meeting the man who lost his leg at Gettysburg made an impression on your dad, Renee, and made him realize, at least later on, that the Civil War wasn’t in the distant past.

      Liked by 4 people

  8. My dad, his brother, and three of my mom’s brothers-in-law served in WWII. Dad and his brother saw action with the Navy in the Pacific. My uncles served in Europe. None of them ever talked about their experiences. One of my cousins was a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War. His twin brother was a dentist at Subic Bay Navy Base in the Philippines. Both of them are ardent right wingers. Another cousin was an Air Force Chaplain for over 20 years – never in combat, though. His daughter was a career Air Force nurse – her husband also career Air Force. They are definitely left wingers.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. My dad served in the army, but he was between Korea and Vietnam. Mid 50s and they sent him to Germany. He didn’t talk about it very much. I don’t think anything necessarily traumatic happened but he was just not interested in it. He did his time and then he left.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have always assumed that the way my father lived his life, indicated that he didn’t like not having a choice about serving in the army, and getting stationed in Germany. During the Vietnam war, he represented more than one conscientious objector. I know there were four in total, and I know that he handled the cases pro bono.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. My dad served in Korea as a naval corpsman. I don’t think he saw much actual combat. He didn’t talk about it much at all. He was stationed on a ship that I think was used as a military hospital.

    Liked by 5 people

  11. Hi-
    I had uncles in WWll, BiL in Vietnam, and another who was in the Air Force, and a nephew in the Air Force who flew refueling tankers. Just retired last summer as a colonel.
    My dad, being the youngest of five boys, had to stay home on the farm and he always resented that. Three of his brothers served. I never heard any stories from them.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. As some baboons know, I used to attend an annual Memorial Day celebration with a bunch of people mostly from the neighborhood. It was a pot luck affair hosted by The Eddies – five men who had evolved from a book club to a singing group – and everyone was welcome. Our gathering included a performance and sing-along with The Eddies. This Pete Seeger song always concluded the program:

    Liked by 4 people

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