One of the concepts that Larry and I are trying to instill in our children is a love of history. Last night, we were able to bring a bit of history off the pages of a book. We were able to hear a first hand experience of WWII through someone who had been there, Dillon Wynne.
Mr. Dillon is a sweet church member. He's 92 years young. He's known for cracking jokes and letting you know what he thinks about anything you ask, and then some :) When a fellow home school mom asked if I knew of any WWII vets that would be willing to share their experience with the kids, I asked Mr. Dillon.
Mr. Dillon served in the Navy during the war. He was the only survivor from his landing craft after it was hit by a bomb. He spent almost a year in the hospital recovering from his injuries. He reluctantly agreed to share his story, admitting to getting very emotional when he shares about that time in his life. He has spoken to other school groups, and had a video of one of the interviews that he had previously done that he shared with our kids.
After watching the video, Mr. Dillon was able to show us his old uniform, medals, a book about the boat he served on, sand from the beaches of Normandy, and Iwo Jima. It was humbling to hear him share of the hardships that he endured during his time of service. Mr. Dillon like many other Vets does not enjoying talking about those times of battle from long ago. In fact, Mr. Dillon's daughter came and heard some of his stories for the first time.
Mr. Dillon shared that honoring the memories of those who served, but never came home, was the reason he now speaks of such times. He called them the real heroes. He asked me why we wanted him to speak of such things; why did we want our children to know about war? I was able to share with him how we want our children to know that the names and numbers on the pages of history books we read were real people. They are the sons, fathers, brothers, uncles and cousins to real families and friends. Those lives mattered. We feel that he and millions others became heroes when they left behind the comfort of family and friends to serve our country. They are the reason that we enjoy the freedom that we do today. I wanted my children to know that, and to know about his service so they could know a real hero.
It was hard for Mr. Dillon to speak of those times. It was hard for us to hear of some of the hardships of war. It was a great lesson for those of us there listening because it was a good reminder of a lesson we should never forget: Freedom is not free, it was bought with a price.