Let me tell you about Larry. I met Larry in 2009 when I was researching a column about WWII veterans. He looked for all the world like the eight-plus decades of life he had experienced. But, there was a twinkle in his eyes. Even though his body bent under the pressure of his years and his toils, he was a man with a mission. I will share with you as he shared with me.
As a youngster Larry served in the Army as a clerk typist. That would be the military’s definition of a stenographer. His assignment was to go to Germany and record the Nuremberg trials of the Nazi killers and thugs which were captured by the allies at the close of WWII. Larry was a witness to history. He sat in the courthouse and looked into the eyes of these monsters as they attempted to explain away their crimes. He listened as they tried to justify their murderous acts. He told me he still sees them in his sleep.
Larry’s mission today is to make certain the world never forgets these monsters and the holocaust they caused. When Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, first saw the death camps and the gas chambers used by the Nazis, he ordered that cameramen and photographers record the scene in detail. He believed that for sure down the road some SOB, his words, will deny that any of this ever happened. Eisenhower wanted to be sure that there was sufficient photographic evidence of the horrors he was witnessing. He was concerned that history might someday try to be re-written. Today we know that there are already morons proclaiming the holocaust was a hoax. It is rarely taught in schools anymore. To some, it is ancient history. How sad.
Larry traveled as his health permitted, spreading the word about the holocaust, the death camps, and the perpetrators of it all. He had prepared a pamphlet with graphic photographs of the camps and of General Eisenhower. I was pleased to have heard and seen his presentation.
I just recently learned that Larry now resides in a senior assisted living facility since his wife of many years died and he doesn’t get to go out so much anymore. I can assure you that he is not wasting his time though. No, he is spending his time teaching and entertaining the other residents of that home with tales of the horrors and of the victories he witnessed. He is begging the residents to never forget and to never let their children forget. Larry still is on his mission.
Larry, you see, is one of the few remaining WWII heroes still among us. He is one of the last of the “Greatest Generation.” He truly witnessed and participated in history and in this season of the celebration of veterans, I hope you will take a moment to remember not only people like Larry, but all of those who have served. I especially hope you will think of those WWII veterans whose sacrifices made our country the free home we love. Everyday their numbers shrink. If you ever get the opportunity to hear the stories from one of these esteemed veterans, I encourage you to do so. Sadly their time with us is growing short.
God bless you Larry and all veterans who have served us so well.