My daughter is in charge of a July 4th neighborhood breakfast in their local park every year, and she thought this year it would be nice to display some veterans’ pictures and memorabilia. She and her husband stopped by the home of one of their friends, from church, a Brother Borgstrom, who they knew was a Vietnam vet. He hesitated at first. “I really don’t have all that much to display,” he said. But then he added, “I do have a framed newspaper article that has a picture of my dad with his brothers. You’ve maybe heard the story Saving Private Ryan. Well, my dad’s four brothers were all killed in World War II, and my dad was the only survivor. After so many of his brothers died, the military allowed him to come home.”
When the man told how the producer of Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg) had had contact with his family, my daughter realized that this man who was a grandfather figure to her kids, and who’d been her son’s primary teacher, was possibly the son of the Private Ryan depicted in the movie. Of course, the movie was fictional and could have been based on several stories. (Note: Google claims that the story of Private Ryan is based on the experience of a soldier by the name of Fritz Niland who also lost several brothers in the war, and others claim the story to be theirs, but in reviewing the various stories, the Borgstrom story appears to correlate most closely to the movie)
Our daughter’s family friend went on to tell her that quite a few families lost more than one child in World War II. A family by the name of Sullivan lost five sons in a single incident. (They were all stationed on the same ship which sunk.) We know that hundreds of thousands of families including my husband’s grandparents, lost one of their children. There were over 400,000 U.S. casualties in this war.
Brother Borgstrom’s family story and the unbelievable sacrifice of his grandparents reminded me that I need to be thankful not only for our veterans and military people, but for their parents and family members as well. They too, are heroes.