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Arendt, Laurie (ed.) / Back from duty 2 : more stories from Ozaukee County's veterans

[Introduction] A second tour of duty,   p. [7]

Page [7]

A second tour of duty
Reading the Back from Duty books is a multi-sensory experience for me. I feel very fortunate that when I
page through this book - and the one that preceded it in 2002 - I not only read the words, but in many cases, I
actually hear the men and women speaking those words in my mind. When I look back on the experience, it is
very difficult for me to single out specific experiences or memories because much of it is woven together.
In doing this project, so many people have asked me what I have enjoyed and disliked about the process. It's
hard for me to say what I enjoy the most because there are so many satisfying aspects. The hardest part is,
ironically, very easy to point out. Part of this project requires me to say goodbye.
Since the publication of the first edition and as of early November 2005, 22 participating Back from Duty
veterans have passed away. I did not know the first two very well, but I spent an entire afternoon with the third
veteran, whose mind was as sharp as a tack and who could easily still fit into his WWII uniform. He showed me all
his photos, including multiple photos of his sweetheart, Martha, whom he came home to marry.
The very first person to sign up for the second book, World War II Naval veteran Alan Hauck Sr., passed away
before he could be interviewed. Four veterans who were interviewed for this project have since passed away and
their pages are particularly poignant for me.
While I am realistic enough to understand that time does pass, the men and women in these two books
represent the best of America as it passes from generation to generation. They are good people, and many are
now my good friends, and it is hard to see them go.
There is a saying in the very last pages of the book that really sums up why this project needed to happen:
Call our our names as the years go by
Remember us and we shall never die.
I strongly feel that it is our duty, as family members, as civilians and as friends, to ensure that this continues
to happen. We need to pass on a healthy respect to our future generations for those who continue to serve our
country. It is the least we can do to show our thanks for what they have done for us.
This is an easy task for all of us if we are willing to take the time to do it. Sit down with the veterans and talk
with them. If they don't want to talk about their experiences, it is even more reason to offer a simple and heartfelt
"Thanks for a job well done." Do your part to welcome someone home from Korea or Vietnam right now. Some of
these men and women have yet to hear those simple words.
Shake the hand of the next person you see wearing a Legion, VFW or other veterans' organization coat or hat.
Use that spare change to buy a poppy. Walk through your local cemetery next Memorial Day and think about
those decorated gravestones.
Attend a Memorial Day parade or Veteran's Day ceremony with your family. When at a parade stand quietly,
take your hat off and place your hand over your heart as the American flag passes by. Teach this respect to your
children and grandchildren. The flag is a powerful symbol for veterans, and now as well for me. It represents more
than our country: It represents every single veteran that you will find in the pages of this book.
To the veterans in this book, I thank you for opening your scrapbooks, your memories and your hearts to be a
part of this project. For some of you, this was a courageous step and I'm glad we took it together.
Laurie Arendt
November 2005

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