PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Opinion

November 2, 2012

Voting honors soldiers and family heroes

Austin — Some say it’s our duty.  Others declare it a privilege.  Whatever you call it, casting a ballot next Tuesday is the single best way to get your voice heard.  The people of our great nation will decide who will be the next president of the United States of America.  Whether Democratic, Republican or Independent, we have one thing in common. It’s our responsibility to vote. Our soldiers have preserved that right for us. Thanks to them, we still live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Peace and freedom come with a price.  Young men and women pay with their lives. Every family has heroes. Perhaps it’s a niece serving in Afghanistan or a grandfather who fought in Vietnam in the sixties.  Some return from the battlefield, but others are not so lucky.   My father-in-law was a POW for 22 months. Here is his story.

James William Crouch Jr. was a bombardier pilot in the United States Air Force.  Stationed in London, he and his unit flew air raids over Germany. On April 4th  of 1943 he was shot down over Antwerp, Belgium, upon returning from a mission to bomb an aircraft assembly plant. Seconds before it crashed, he buckled his parachute and ejected from his B-17. With a leg full of shrapnel, he sought help from a sympathetic Belgian woman who bandaged his wounds and gave him clean clothes. He temporarily eluded the Germans who were searching every house in the vicinity for “the American pilot”.  When the compassionate woman’s husband, a Nazi sympathizer, found James in his house, he immediately turned him in.  Following his capture, the Nazi soldiers forced a doctor to dig the shrapnel out of James’ leg. Subsequently, they relocated him to Stalag Luft 3 where he stayed for almost two years.

He was liberated by General Patton and flown to his hometown of Port Arthur where he met and married the love of his life. His story has a happy ending, but memories of war and imprisonment haunted him for years. For a long time, he wouldn’t share the experience with anyone. It was his grandson, Will, who finally got him talking when his 5th grade history class studied WWII. “Will you come to my school and tell us about it, Papaw?”

 I grabbed the video camera and drove my father-in-law to Valley View Elementary school.  He stood in that elementary schoolroom, reliving his war story and fielding questions for almost an hour. His pain and suffering was evident to everyone.   He cleared his throat so many times I thought he was having an allergic reaction.  In fact, I was about to turn off the camera and get him a glass of water when I realized he was choking back tears.  “After all these years”, he told me, “I still get emotional about my fellow crew members.  Especially the ones who didn’t make it back.”

The kids listened wide eyed to the detailed description but they weren’t the only ones. Will’s teacher and I used up a whole box of tissues.  We may have seen the movie, The Great Escape, but James had actually lived it.

My own father, Charles Anthony Caspersen Jr. also served in WWII. A naval lieutenant, his duties were carried out on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. My uncle, C.M. Phelan Jr., flew B-17s over the Himilayas and later served as a flight commander in Cuero, Texas. My older brother remained stateside during his tour of duty, but he would have gone wherever his superiors sent him. Real soldiers are like that. They sacrifice. They serve.

It’s important that we vote this Tuesday, Nov. 6, because it’s our duty, our privilege and our right, but mostly because over the decades so many of our fellow Americans have given their lives to defend that right.  It’s as simple as that.

My father in law died in 1994, just two years after recording that VHS tape. We honor him and all soldiers when we clap for them in airports and other public places, but we honor them even more when we cast our vote.

Donia Caspersen Crouch was raised in Southeast Texas and lives in Austin. Contact her at dcrouch17@austin.rr.com.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 16, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Obama's equal pay exaggeration leads us all into danger

    The president's claims of national shame over gender-based pay inequity spring from distorted calculations, as well as some convenient political math.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Taking someone out to the ballgame gets expensive

    Families in big-league cities like Boston and New York pay steep prices to catch a baseball game. It's not so expensive everywhere - especially if you're frugal.
     

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don't blame voters for low turnout

    Suppose nobody votes this year. On Nov. 4 the doors to the polling places are thrown open, and there isn't anyone in line. No absentee ballots are filed. No one litigates, charging either fraud or discrimination, because there weren't any voters.
    It won't happen. But if it did, pundits and activists would surely blame public apathy for such a catastrophe. I'd name a different culprit: the major parties, their candidates and their acolytes in the news media.

    April 7, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Voters beware of oligarchs and bogeymen

    Scaring voters to distract them from issues is a tired - and bipartisan - ploy sure to be in heavy rotation this campaign season.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Legal marijuana can be government's new cash crop

    Officials holding out against legalized marijuana may "evolve" their thinking because of one number: Colorado says it gathered $2 million in taxes from pot shops in January, as business was just getting started.

    March 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sherry Sad story shared by too many

    March 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Young athletes face alarming risk of head injuries

    Concussions are a growing injury among young athletes and cause for alarm. Reasons for the trend are varied, but we at least need better data and more study of how to avoid them.

    March 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Banning a 'B-word' teaches girls the wrong lesson

    Striking the word "bossy" from the language doesn't help young girls learn to speak up or become leaders. It teaches them how to be, well, bossy.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wild Hog politics tearing Port Arthur

    February 4, 2014

Video
Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism
Facebook
Sports Tweets
Photos