Would I Have Had the Courage
As I was driving in my car, listening to a talk radio station, the announcer was talking about the young men, barely out of puberty unstinting volunteering to go to war. They were brave and patriotic, knowing full well that they might be cut down during the invasions of Europe and the South Pacific, and yet they went. Many were naïve, barely off the farm and yet they came in droves to fight for the freedom of other countries, trying to save them from the evil of the Nazi despots or the Oriental emperor.
They couldn’t have imagined the horrors of war and the pain from the wounds, the cold of winters, the heat, humidity, and insects of the jungle. Bad water and lack of food would further weaken them, but on they fought, because it was what their country expected of them. My father-in-law Elmer “Bud” Morrison fought in Germany, as well as the struggle with other GIs to complete the Alcan Highway. My father Edson Carl Beck, fought in the Philippines, was in Australia, and visited Hiroshima, Japan. His visit to Hiroshima must have been after the dropping of the A-bomb. It was something I didn’t know about him until later in his life.
I marvel at the courage of my father and my father-in-law as well as the thousands of others who flocked to the recruiting stations to report for duty, long before the draft boards called them. All throughout the history of the United States, we have had men and women who have put the love of home and country above their own lives.
It made me think. Would I have had that much courage? I think I might. While the conflict in Vietnam was in full swing, I volunteered, not for the Marines. I wanted to keep people alive and decided to be a corpsman in the Navy. Later, I found out that the Navy provided the medical help for the Marines. If I would have been asked to report to Vietnam, I believe that I would have gone, not happily, but I would have followed orders.