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Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorializing those who Served, remembering a twin

For a while, Memorial Day seemed like it was becoming only a day for picnics, not to remember those who served and gave their lives for their country. I think that since the recent wars, Gulf I and Gulf II, that may be changing as more and more people are touched by those who are currently serving or have served. Although I think for most people in the U.S. today, it is hard to remember that we are a country at war.

At left is my father, John A. Broberg, and his twin brother, David J Broberg. My dad told me the story that when he was born, there was a German midwife along with the doctor at the house. Dad was born and the doctor was doing something and about five minutes later, the midwife yelled, "Mein Gott! Doktor, dere ist un utter von!"

They were inseparable. They were mirror twins, which means that one was exactly the opposite than the other--identical, but where one was left handed, the other right, one had a mole on the left side , the other on the right.

Dad has often commented that wars were things that the politicians got us into. I suppose that's right, but I also know that he and his brother had something they they believed they were fighting for when they first enlisted. They were attending school at what was then the Colorado School of Mines, studying engineering, when news of Pearl Harbor reached them. The next day, they went first to the Navy offices to enlist, but they were closed, so they then went to the Army.

That seems only natural now, as Grandpa, John A. Broberg, Sr. seen here, had served as a training officer at Fort Sheriden, IL right out of college in WWI and he re-enlisted for WWII. This is in his WWII uniform and I'm not sure if it is in Japan, La Jolla, or at Ft. Sheridan.

While both Dave and my dad could fly, and had flown for a number of years, they were both put into the 5th Army Corps of Engineers. Dad served in the European theater, and Dave in the Pacific.

Dad had many close calls, but managed to make it through. Dave, who was a sergeant at this time, had just taken an area on Okinawa when a sharpshooter hit and killed him. Dad said that he knew when it happened. That thread which connected them before birth had been snipped, and thousands of miles away my dad felt it.

I've often wondered what life would have been like for my father and for us had my uncle lived. What would it be like to have cousins from a man who looked exactly like my dad? (OK, not exactly like my dad, dad always looks like there is a little devil in him, and Dave always looks in pictures like the serene one.)

I think even now, my dad sorrows for his lost twin. In fact, I think all of us feel his pain even these many years.

At left is the picture of my dad's company in front of the Arc de Triumph. My dad is smack in the middle of the row which is standing.

It is sort of amusing. Dad always got along better with the Germans than he did with the French whom he helped "liberate." He can still speak quite a bit of German, although I suspect he learned it from a certain Fraulein. He has always looked upon war as a terrible tragedy where the common person is the one who loses on all sides.

I suppose that's one reason why I always tried to take my daughter to watch the ceremonies on Veteran's Day and on Memorial Day. I don't think it sunk in. She's managed to be involved in a whirlwind of graduation parties and swimming parties. I didn't make it an issue to go to a Parade (I'm not sure that there even was one here), and I didn't see any postings of any services.

When I was young, growing up in Bronson, Michigan, we had a parade with veteran's, and the High School Marching Band, and the Boy and Girl Scouts. We would march down the main street to the cemetery which was across the street from the High School. There, there would be a speech or two, then the honor guard would shoot their rifles and taps would play. It was moving. It is still moving thinking about it today.

I'm told that that is so old school now. Marching Bands must be paid to march. People are all away for the weekend, or they have other things which must be attended to. Somehow, I think that all this "old Fashionedness" which has been lost is representative of the tearing of the social fabric.

Dad's still living. To him, and to all the others who have served, and to those who gave everything and to those who lost so much, thank you. We remember. I, and I know others of us don't understand why some of the wars happen....the old "to preserve our nations freedom" sometimes seems a bit off to me.... None-the-less, following duty, doing what you think is right, and giving your all must be remembered and recognized. Bless them all. Bless us all.

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