I was attending college when the U.S.
joined other countries in the war against Germany. My brothers and many of
my high school and college friends were enlisting. The same was true for
my campus sweetheart, Mike. We had often talked about getting married
someday when we had graduated. But now Mike felt so strongly that if he
had a wife to come home to, instead of a girlfriend, he
would make it back home safe and sound. I guess it was fortunate that we
spent his last weekend pass getting married because, after spending over a
year on the front lines, Mike was safely home at last!
As he said: "I've got
to get back to civilian life, and you have to get used to me as a husband,
instead of that young trumpet player who came down off the stage to
jitterbug with a cute red-head I spotted! Only---guess this is as good a
time as any to tell you that I'm not quite home for good yet. After we
made peace with Germany, I fully expected to continue on toward Japan.
Then the war with Japan also ended. I found out on the boat home that I am
just 5 points short for enough to be discharged. And guess what - that
Purple Heart I turned down was worth exactly 5 points."
"What Purple Heart? You
never told me you were wounded."
"Oh, it was nothing
much. I just dove into a fox hole to escape enemy fire and it happened to
be covered with barb wire. I saw too many really wounded. Now they
deserved that Purple Heart. I didn't know it would have helped me finish
my tour of duty several months sooner! Dottie, I just thought
of something else you have to know right away! I'll still jitterbug with
you. But - after walking clear across Germany, I plan to never walk
anywhere again unless it's absolutely necessary!"
A week or so later, Mike had
to report for duty at an army base near Durham, N.C.. I followed right
along after him. The town people welcomed the soldiers' wives and rented
part of their homes to us. My room even had a small kitchen area. There
wasn't much for me to do during the day. I spent lots of time sitting on
the front steps talking to my landlady's little girl. One day, a cute
little colored girl walked by and I asked if she was coming here to play.
"My goodness. No. She's
colored. I can't even speak to her!"
I told Mike about it that
night. He said:
"I certainly am sorry
to hear that. You know, there were a lot of my buddies in the army that
were colored. Some of them didn't make it home either. Makes you wonder
how their Welcome Home is going to be. Guess it's not the time to make
When Mike got to be with me
for the next week-end, we took a bus to look at Duke University campus. We
spent the whole day walking----so much for my husband's plans to never
walk again! I guess making me happy qualified as absolutely necessary!