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To Remember and Honor: These Stories Must Be Told

I have a confession to make:  I don’t know a whole hell of a lot about the military or military service, and I’m not terribly well versed in the details of the various wars and conflicts that have shaped American history and culture.  I know what I know from what I learned in school and a lifetime of casual observation – typically reading an article or book or watching the occasional historical documentary on TV.

I’ve never served in uniform, nor do I have immediate family members who serve.  The closest I’ve ever gotten to any of this is through my two grandfathers.  My maternal grandfather, who was an influential presence in my early life, served in the Army throughout Europe during World War II.  However, I know next to nothing about his experience because he flatly refused to talk about it.

My paternal grandfather, who I met only a handful of times, was a native Filipino who enlisted in his country’s army during wartime to fight alongside the United States after the Japanese invasion of the Philippines.  Yet again, I know little about his activity, other than that after the war he, like other Filipino soldiers, was invited to join the U.S. military.  He was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas; he returned home once a year on leave, and like clockwork nine months after each visit my grandmother gave birth to a child!  (That happened eleven times, the third of which was my dad!)  Over fifty years later I myself would relocate to Austin, some 70 miles down the road — and with only the vaguest notions of the man who preceded me by a couple of generations.

As an adult I feel a tinge of sadness in the knowledge that this very eventful chapter of my family history is pretty much lost to me.  I can only imagine what both my grandfathers were seeing and feeling at those very same moments in time, on opposite sides of the world during a global conflict. It fascinates me to think that against the backdrop of these epic battles the entire future of my family as I know it was riding on the fate of these two young men and how they would navigate through true uncertainty and peril.  Obviously they both lived to tell the tale, yet there is the great irony:  the tale was never really told.

That’s why when I got a request to narrate a new promotional video on behalf of the American Battle Monuments Foundation, I was intrigued.  I suppose it spoke to that part of me where that blind spot exists, a void where there should be awareness and understanding.

The ABMF is the educational/non-profit arm of the American Battle Monuments Commission, the agency responsible for maintaining 58 different burial grounds and memorials in Europe, North Africa and the Pacific, honoring those who served in numerous armed conflicts including World War I, World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars.  Its mission is to preserve the legacy of these heroes by sharing their stories.  Of particular importance is ABMF’s commitment to transmitting all this to younger generations, so that the sacrifices of previous generations and the reasons they made those sacrifices are never forgotten.

That new video dropped on Veterans Day 2022 – and you can view it just below.

I’m honored to play a small role in this effort.  If you’re so moved, consider following or supporting this worthy organization.

Eternal gratitude to my grandfathers for their service. And thanks to all veterans and those in uniform, past and present.