Last year on Veteran’s Day I sent out a post about my dad and his involvement in World War II. I have written countless updates in the last two decades, but this was the one in which I received the most feedback. A lot of incredible personal stories that many of you shared.
Last week, we lost another family member who was part of The Greatest Generation, my brother’s father-in law—David Herbach… A wonderful man who will be greatly missed. There aren’t many left from that Generation but we will always honor them and all of the heroic men and women that served and continue to serve in our armed forces. We must never stop the fight for Veteran’s Mental Health.
MH Update 11/10/2021 – Honoring the Greatest Generation on Veterans Day—A Personal Story
Over the time I’ve been at MHANYS, we have sent out thousands of pieces related to advocacy, trainings, support, etc. I don’t usually get personal except when I have spoken about the passing of some of our wonderful leaders, my son’s recovery, and my love of sports (especially the Mets) but I want to address an incredible story about my dad and what my brother and I are doing tomorrow to celebrate his life.
My father was one of the ‘Greatest Generation’. He served in World War II and was largely based in Chungking, China Rarely if ever did he talk about his service.
His sister, my Aunt Pauline (married an engineer from Korea—scandalous back in the ‘30’s), and he had family that evacuated Korea for China during World War II. Through one of those incredible coincidences, my father did not serve far from where several of his family lived. His family was barely able to stay alive in this war torn country. My father, at great personal risk, was able to bring them much needed unused supplies to help them. Almost eighty years later, they have not forgotten my father’s bravery and charity.
One of those relatives recently got in touch with my brother. He is in his mid-80’s and lives outside of Utica and though he was too young to have a recollection of my dad personally, he and his family knew his name for what he did for them. So tomorrow on Veterans’ Day, my brother and I are going up to meet him and his entire family.
Growing up, I only knew my father as a workaholic. Our conversations were largely focused on my switching the TV channels for him from our pre automatic switching TV sets (Yes, I’m old). I always thought my name growing up was ‘Switch’. As the years went on, I got to learn the depth of my father. He passed away around twenty years ago, but his humanity came out in his love of his grandchildren and the countless letters he wrote to all of us filled with humor and love. He was also so modest that he never talked about what he did for his sister’s family till late in life and then he said matter of factly, ‘it was just something you did for family.’
Like all of us, he was flawed but he was also a man of great courage and resilience
Tomorrow, in the most unusual of circumstances, we are celebrating his life as a veteran and a person of valor.
To all of the veterans of whatever age, I want to thank you for your love of country and your sacrifices for all of us. It is a debt we can never repay
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