Sunday, August 22, 2010

War Veterans In Golden Years

WWII Veteran SSG George Browder at Veterans Day Parade in Warsaw, North Carolina in 2005 

SSG George Browder at the WWII Memorial in DC, 2006

George Browder is shown in the 2005 and 2006 pictures above.  In 2007 Mr. Browder died at age 86 and was buried in Richmond County, North Carolina.  This war veteran had the means and executive status to be clothed in a Brooks Brothers suit; instead, he entered his grave in military uniform, a garment near and dear to his heart.

Young Browder joined the Army with a goal of becoming a paratrooper and infantryman.  He did both and served heroically in the Pacific Theater with the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 11th Airborne.  He was highly decorated with medals and ribbons for the service he rendered on the battlefields of Pacific Islands.

After the Great War, he left the military and started a family and a career. He had a wife and eventually three sons, one of whom is George Jr. (Sandy), a former career colleague and good friend of mine.

The senior George Browder worked his way up the ranks to become general manager of two J. P. Stevens Plants in Rockingham.  Later, he was named President of Stevens Aviation in Greer, South Carolina, Nashville, Tennessee, and Louisville, Kentucky.  Along the way to his golden years he was a community leader, and held leadership positions in his church, the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, and Boy Scouts.  The town of Rockingham named their public park in honor of this popular man.

The following is what is interesting to me about this story.  Similar stories can be told about war veterans all across the country.  Men and women fought on battlefields, returned home, raised families, built careers, contributed to their communities, and grew old.  Out of all the worldly accomplishments men and women achieve in life, many war veterans' thoughts and interests return to their times in the military, not business, fraternities, sports, or clubs.  I saw this happen with my father and sense it in other men I know.  Just like Mr. Browder, some past warriors read books about their battles; many reconnect with buddies in their units, attend reunions, and turn out for parades on national holidays.  Many begin to talk about their experiences for the first time. Some write their memoirs as George Browder did in his book entitled, "The Road to Tokyo and Back."

I admire and respect veterans who outwardly show what they've done for their country.  When these men were young, they placed themselves in harm's way and survived for a reason.  The reason is still a mystery to some older veterans who prefer to forget it all.  But for others like Mr. Browder and Mr. Aguilar in a previous post, they remain courageously visible and a source of encouragement for young men and women.

Look again at the top picture and imagine what Browder may have said to the young soldiers and many others.  He most likely gave uplifting words of thanks, moral support, and encouragement to these two young men.  This is the spirit war veterans should put forth, especially in the golden years of life.  Each in his unique way can be a shining example of character, patriotism, love, and respect.

Have a good week!

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