SERVING OUR VETERANS: ‘Give Me Tomorrow’
As I write this column it is snowing and the temperature is dropping. The forecast is for extremely cold temperatures ahead. It reminded me of a book I read a couple of years ago about the Korean War. Or, should I say “police action” as it never was officially declared a war. This police action from 1950 to 1953 took the lives of 33,791 of our American soldiers. Stuck between World War II and the Vietnam Nam “conflict,” it has been referred to as the forgotten war. Unless one is a fan of the long running television show “Mash,” few people would barely think about it. What a sad commentary, especially for those killed, those wounded, those missing in action, those taken as POW’s, and for the families of these casualties of war.
The book I read is titled “Give Me Tomorrow” written by Patrick K. O’Donnell. I would highly recommend it as it is an unforgettable story of bravery and courage. It is the story of George Company, a Marine Company, formed quickly to answer its nation’s call to duty in 1950. After storming ashore at Inchon and fighting house-to-house in Seoul, George Company, one of America’s last units in reserve, found itself on the frozen tundra of the Chosin Reservoir. They were facing elements of an entire division of Chinese troops, outnumbered ten to one.
David Douglas Duncan was a Marine officer in World War II and is an American photojournalist. He is renowned for his combat photos during WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam. In December 1950 this photographer approached a haggard George Company Marine near him. In Duncan’s words:
“Dawn was just over the horizon. A Marine. kept prodding with his spoon, trying to break loose a single frost-covered bean from others in the can. He could neither move it nor long continue holding the spoon between his gloved, but almost rigid fingers. He found one, and slowly raised it to his mouth. He stood unmoving waiting for it to thaw.”
“What would you want if you could have any wish?” Duncan asked. The Marine “continued to stand motionless with empty eyes. Then his lips began to open [and] his eyes went into the graying sky. ‘Give me tomorrow.’ ” After the brief, but historic encounter, Duncan’s photo of this Marine, one of the war’s most famous, captured the feelings and grit of combat. Duncan summed up the picture this way, “That photo represents all those who were there.”
Sitting here at my desk fifty seven years later, I realize there is a message here. We are still in the Christmas season and the New Year is just around the corner. We recently made and checked our Christmas wish lists. Our eyes are now looking ahead for our plans and resolutions for 2018. When we do this, we need to step back and remember how fortunate we are to live in a land where we can receive so many of the things on our wish lists. We have these gifts and opportunities mainly due to the freedom won for us by our veterans. Let us not forget the sacrifices made by all our soldiers from all wars, including Korea. Let us commit ourselves to not think of any soldier as part of a “forgotten war.” Because of what they have done for us, the majority of us, when asked “what would you want if you could have any wish”, are able to say more than just “give me tomorrow.”
Continued Christmas wishes and have a Happy New Year.
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