My father-in-law was a hero. A true hero.
He was a war hero.
I have hanging on my wall a shadowbox with his army induction photo, his bronze star, his purple heart, his D-day medal from the country of France and a medal signifying his belonging to the "big red one". I have the flag that draped his coffin.
I've read the story about why he was awarded the bronze star and purple heart. He was a tank commander during WWII. I don't know why the guy was out of his tank, but one of Dad's men was injured and trapped between the tank/line and a German machine gun nest.
Dad rushed the nest, rescued his man and carried him back to the tank and to safety; he was injured in the process.
But he was a TRUE hero.
I never saw the photo, I didn't even know about the bronze star. I knew about the purple heart because his injury disabled him later in life. I knew about the medal from France because there was a controversy. I knew about the Big Red One because he had dinner with the remainder of his unit at least once a year. I never knew about the letter until his death.
He wanted it that way because he knew what was important.
He came home from the war, went to work for "Continental Can Company" and worked his way through Moody Bible Institute. He married my mother-in-law and became a "home missionary", going to schools, going to the poor, going to the "back country" in Tennessee, preaching the Gospel.
That was what was important to him. All three of his children were born in the mission field of Tennessee.
In the process, he preached on the radio, he ministered in small churches, he worked at a summer camp for poor kids.
After that, he moved to Brookfield, IL, where he pastored the church where most of his family and in-laws belonged. From there, he moved to Greenville, MI and after that he pastored the church that I grew up in, where I met his son, my husband.
Did things go wrong in his family? Yes, but his children made their own choices as adults that I'm not sure he had any part in. I do believe that he did the best he could with what he was given, in the era that he lived in.
Why did he not talk about his war days?
Because he didn't want to take away anything from preaching the Gospel. His war history was less important to him than his vocation of preaching.
I believe he was a hero of the best kind.