We’d play till sundown or dinner or homework. He’d bounce me some grounders and toss me some pop ups. He’d remind me to call for it and to use two hands. Later on, when I played ball, I did it because I loved it. My Dad had given me the gift of something he loved. It is a gift I treasure to this day.
A high school dropout in 1936, he left an Oregon logging camp to enlist in the U.S. Army. He was 16. He earned his Combat Infantry Badge as a platoon sergeant, slugging his way across France, Germany and Austria. At a place called Gunskirchen Lager, a satellite in the Mauthausen Concentration Camp system, the American soldiers of the 71st Infantry Division came face-to-face with the essential evil of the foe they’d been fighting. He never spoke of it, but I know in his heart, he felt they’d done something right. He never claimed that those American dogfaces of World War II were heroes. But I knew they were.
For more on this story, visit: The Distance of Love.