Monday, May 30, 2016

War and Remembrance

Annamaria on Monday

One great thing about blogging on Mondays is that, given the way we Americans arrange out holiday calendar, I get to write about quite of few special days every year.  For me, Memorial Day always brings memories of WWII.  I was old enough by the time it ended to have my own memories of it--vague, fleeting ones to be sure, but affecting.

Then there is the historian in me.  Susan Spann and I share honors as the in-resident MIE historians.  In my family, I fulfill that role all by myself.  Most of what you are going to see in this post is from my family archives.  But first let's talk about the background of the holiday Americans are celebrating today: the day we now call Memorial Day.  It started as much more than a long weekend to kick off summer fun.

Here is an Internet description of the first Maytime act to honor the fallen. I find this recounting incredibly moving.

Memorial Day was started by former slaves on May, 1, 1865 in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. They then held a parade of 10,000 people led by 2,800 Black children where they marched, sang and celebrated.

When Memorial Day became an official holiday a few years later, it was called Decoration Day, because people honored the war dead by placing flags and flowers on their graves.

Today I am honoring two from my family who served between 1942 and 1946.  If you have visited us here before on the last  Monday in May, you will have seen this photo of my mother's brother--John Pisacane, who was killed in action in Europe in 1945.

What follows are photos and memorabilia of my father's service.  I am putting it all here because I hope you will find the images interesting.  And also because I want to publish them for the record.   Otherwise, I fear they will be lost completely when I am not around to preserve them.  Most of these photos came from my father's scrapbook, documenting his service in combat in the Pacific and as a China Marine after the Japanese surrender in Tsingtao.

Samuel F. Puglise




CHINA: 1946

Sam liked to sketch and sculpt in clay.  I am not sure
 where he was when he drew this.

Because I am so grateful that my father came back to us, I always watch this film clip and weep on Memorial Day.   I will be doing so a few times today.  Please join me. 

War is raging in so many places on our poor planet these days.  Think too of the children whose parents are fighting today.  And the children whose homes have become horrors.  Weep for them too.  


  1. No wonder Dad always liked you best. You're a terrific daughter. The film clip is a tear-jerker, and sad reminder of where we are today.

    1. Thanks, Bro. Those warriors came back having done the dreadful work they saw as necessary to stamp out tyranny. I know my father, who died seven years ago, could not bear to watch the news then. Though I have never stopped missing him, I am glad he can't see the likes of Trump being spoken of as the possible winner of the presidency of the country he help protect from Tojo, Mussolini, and Hitler.

  2. Ah, those were the days. May they never come again. (Add that to the can of hopeless wishes...)

    1. EvKa, what I said to Jeff above. Boggles my mind and sinks my heart!

  3. We seem to have swept our wars under the carpet these days - proxy wars in parts of the world that most people don't seem to care about. Just more hot air for political rhetoric...

  4. Too true, Michael. But there are thousands upon thousands running from places they used to call home, putting babies in rickety boats because they will be safer in them than they are on land. And millions of complacent people who turn up their noses and harden their hearts to the suffering.

  5. The world is too much with us these days. More wars, drones, desperate poor people fleeing wars, which are not fault of their own. Yet they suffer and their children suffer, whether they remain in their countries or risk their lives and flee, not knowing their fate.
    And yes, many people are hardening their hearts to the suffering, but there are a lot of Greeks and people in other countries who are sympathetic and helping the refugees as best as they can. In Greece, where the people my be "austeritied" to death, the generosity is amazing.
    Even in Germany, individuals are pitching in to help in many ways.
    So, I'll concentrate on the good folks.
    I just hope the forces of good stand up to the far-right in Europe and show solidarity is the way to go.