The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

December 30, 2012

Save those Christmas letters

Christmas greetings from family members often contain details of achievements (promotion, trip, birth, etc.), as well as discouraging events (job loss, death, etc.). What better way to share such information with future generations than to preserve these holiday letters? Perhaps they could be kept in a notebook along with any photographs that accompanied them. Such memories of today will be appreciated in years to come.

Heroes of Old Hickory

A Christmas message from a dear friend, a fun-loving octogenarian, suggested I view a film that had been created when he attended the 60th anniversary reunion of his Army buddies in Europe in 2009. His unit, the 30th Infantry Division, was called “Old Hickory” after Andrew Jackson, illustrious soldier and seventh president of the U.S. The stories told in that film are most memorable.

At that reunion the veterans visited the towns and villages in Belgium and the Netherlands that they had liberated during WWII, and the warm reception of the local citizens was impressive, to say the least. Our friend was heard to say, “Wow — look at the people.”

The film, “Heroes of Old Hickory,” tells of some of the battles this unit was engaged in. “They never lost a battle,” and many of their buddies are buried in cemeteries in Europe. According to this film, every veteran’s grave has been adopted by a local family so that those brave men are never forgotten.

The story is unfinished. After the war, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower “asked his staff to evaluate the numerous divisions that participated in the war. The 30th Infantry Division was selected No. 1 and recommended for the Presidential Unit Citation.” That award has never been given. Visit to learn of this unit’s little-known story.

No doubt there are other WWII veterans living today whose military accounts have never been recorded. It is up to us, the current generation, to honor all veterans by recording their stories.

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