Veterans Day is time to reflect, be thankful

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Francis Bernard Catanzaro, my college roommate’s father, was a World War II veteran and served with the 41st Division in the Southwest Pacific. He was a kind and gentle man.

Mr. Catanzaro’s passions included his gracious wife, Jayne, and their three children, scenery photography made while on family vacations, and landscape and flower gardening. His passion for plants included the house orange trees which became the family Christmas trees. His legacy includes great-grandchildren who are productive citizens.

Robert Parish, my husband’s uncle, also a kind and gentle man, served in the United States Navy in the Mediterranean. He was assigned to three ships during his service, two of which sunk with many losses. He survived to raise two hard-working and successful children. He passed down the qualities of hard work and gifts of service to his children.

Sanford Dowmont, another of my husband’s uncles, served in the Army in the European theater during WWII. Uncle Sanford received horrendous wounds and was tagged on a stretcher as deceased. He moved or moaned when medics realized he needed to be taken to surgery. There he was sewn together then evacuated for extensive medical care and recovery. After more than a year, he was discharged and lived a long and productive life.

Denver C. Loberg, a sergeant in the U. S. Army Air Corps, lost his life on Christmas Eve, 1944. He was flying in a B-24 from northern England to Germany. He was killed on this first mission.. Sgt. Loberg left a daughter, Vida Lobeg Stanard. Vida never knew her father. Vida’s service to public education in Poplar Bluff schools and Three Rivers College is well-known. His legacy was left for our community to benefit.

I cannot imagine the horrific nature of the situations our veterans and soldiers endure. Read about the Bataan Death March, the Battle of the Bulge, Normandy, Khe Sanh, Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, Iraq, Afghanistan, and accounts of prisoners of war. These are not stories but experiences. By reading, watching documentaries, and feature films, these individuals become real.

I learn to respect the strength of soldiers who must get ready mentally and physically for combat while families fear they might never see those they love again. With understanding, I can bring genuine thankfulness.

Not all soldiers serve in combat roles. All servicemen and women are a part of the story and are illustrative of the sacrifice of those who serve in our military. There are millions who give a part of their lives to drive the total force. Many serve in support positions providing supplies, armaments, logistics, mechanics, intelligence, meals, troop entertainment, and medical support.

All keep up our soldier’s morale giving them the tools and will to complete their missions. Many give to their country putting lives on hold, interrupting their education and starting civilian careers. Young men and women view the military as an opportunity to improve their lives and provide a future for the next generation.

Sue Crawford retired as an E-7 after 20 years of service in the United States Navy. Her service in the Navy included aviation structural mechanics. Pilots’ lives depended upon her skills and expertise. Her last tour of duty was on the CVN 75 USS Harry S Truman aircraft carrier on its maiden voyage 2000-2001. Sue’s oldest son is a member of Poplar Bluff High School’s JROTC. He desires to continue his mother’s legacy by serving in the military.

My whole life, I have understood we honor our military and those who have served. I cannot remember a time when my family did not give thanks. I am blessed to have been the descendant and relative of many veterans. I am the wife of a Vietnam veteran. My thankfulness goes beyond my family. It includes my uncles and cousins, both men and women.

Every year on Nov. 11, we recognize our country’s veterans. Give thanks for their service, dedication, and time. Be aware that you are a part of their legacy and enjoy the freedoms written in our Constitution which our soldiers have sworn to protect. I am touched that anyone would give so much to preserve the freedoms we hold dear. We have the freedom to vote, speak, worship and read as we desire and as our conscience leads us due to a soldier’s sacrifice.

Thank you, veterans, for your service!


Sue Crites Szostak has been the director of the Poplar Bluff Municipal Library since 2013. She got her first library card at the Poplar Bluff library and did her internship there as well. She has worked in libraries for 43 years. Contact her at: szostak@poplarbluff.org

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