This date not only commemorates the day the United States of America was purposely attacked by the Japanese military. Chaos reigned in the area, until we gathered our senses, made our plans, and locations like Midway, Guam, and other islands became key areas to defend and win back for freedom. Whatever the other history is, where we made serious mistakes and overlooked intelligence, many young men were lost in this horrible attack. Those who survived never forgot. The people of America united easily to support their military in not only Europe, and Africa, but now in the Pacific. The Japanese awakened the sleeping dragon.
This date is also the birthday of my first mother-in-law, Josephine Gerdun Tomasek. I often thought how difficult it must have been to have this terrible event happen on your birthday. Her family was still growing in numbers, and her husband Frank eventually worked at the Martin Bomber Plant in Bellevue, Nebraska. Offutt Air Force Base was built on the property and became home to the Strategic Air Command.
Josephine had a hard life, many children, and many challenges with life with her husband. She took her marriage vows seriously. Til death do us part meant something to her. Some relationships thrive with struggle. She was a creative woman, fed seven children, clothed them, and made sure they all had a Catholic education. God meant the world to her. She was always kind to me after her son and I divorced. She felt it was important to keep me in her life, and I always appreciated that. She loved that my kids came first to me. Happy Birthday in heaven, Josephine.
The third event on this day has caused my family it’s own day of infamy. In 1988, my father, Thomas M. Jewell, Jr. died of lung cancer. It was a horribly fast moving cancer. He lost 51 pounds in the 51 days from diagnosis to death. He was only 64 years old, had just retired, and was looking forward to traveling for the first time in his life. He made reservations to a European Campaign of his Army Blackhawk Division, following the route he and other soldiers took following General Patton through Europe, liberating each country from Nazi takeover. He never got to take the trip. Mom did.
So today, as America remembers, I’ll remember a lovely lady along with my dad, who Josephine called a gentleman. He was. And yet, he was a badass, too. When I received his medals from the Army, there were many, and also two bronze stars. Badass, indeed. I’m so proud to be his daughter. Remember today. Remember freedom. Remember our military, still sacrificing for our freedom. Thank them if you see someone in uniform today. Be kind to the old gentlemen in their VFW hats. Respect the Honor Guards as they lay heroes to rest. Be grateful. And we’ll see each other tomorrow.