This is a picture of my Great-Grandmother, Mary Keller Domgaard, and her son Kermit Domgaard, (Uncle Kerm to all of us), just after he came home from serving in the US Army during WW II. He was a bachelor, and in his thirties when he left. She was close to seventy and had been a widow for many years. He made it home alive after serving for almost three years and participating in the Normandy invasion. He rarely spoke of what he’d seen or done. His Mother was a Mormon pioneer straight from Germany, and his Father was born of Mormon pioneer parents from Denmark. They lived in Manti, Utah, where they worked hard their entire lives. They were the best of people.
I can’t imagine what it must have been like to send a son to war.
There was a program on the other day about soldiers coming home after WW II. One veteran described his homecoming like this: “I’d written my Mother telling her what day I would arrive, but not the time, because I didn’t know. So when I got in to town, I just walked home from the train station. I knocked on the door, and when my Mother opened it she looked at me and said my name in a way I had never heard her say it before. Her voice was filled with so much pent-up relief and emotion. I never heard her say my name in that way again, and she lived to be 85”.
It’s mostly men who fight, but it’s the women who seem to bear the terrible cost. I don’t know what’s worse. I hope there will be a day when all people are so good that there won’t be a need for war anymore. These soldiers fought for a noble cause, but it was evil that made it necessary. I am indebted to them for the life I live.
Today is Veteren’s Day and I’m thinking about my visits to the American Military Cemetery in Normandy, France. The first time I visited there I was just 19. We had been visiting WW I and II sites for a couple of days, and I was getting a little tired of it. Then we came to this cemetery. Nothing made the cost of war so real (at least in my mind) as this cemetery did or the enormity of the sacrifice. It’s impossible to put into words the way I felt when I saw the thousands of crosses and about three hundred Stars of David, overlooking the Normandy Coast. Sadness, loss, deep gratitude, and reverence come to mind. I have since been there with my parents, and with my children. It was an emotional experience for all of us. This is a hallowed place. Today I salute courage, valor, and sacrifice, both of soldiers and of Mothers.