Thinking of a World War II Veteran

As we near Memorial Day, I am thinking of my friend Barney Sneed, who went to World War II, as an eighteen-year-old from Oregon. As one of General Patton’s foot soldiers, Barney walked through Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Germany.  
Barney died last year at the age of 97, a spry, fit man until his last few days. 

Although he was somewhat reluctant to talk about his wartime experiences, he did tell me stories about that time—and of his sadness when his friend was killed at the end of the war. Barney and his friend sported identical mustaches, with plans for a grand “shave them off” celebration when they returned home to Oregon. In memory of his friend, Barney wore a mustache for the rest of his life.  

Several years ago on Memorial Day, when I was still living in Kansas, I wrote Barney a letter, thanking him for his service. He called me when the letter arrived to say that no one had ever thanked him for his wartime service. When I moved permanently to Oregon, I was blessed to have Barney as a dear friend.  

So, my very dear Barney—and all the men and women who have served in the military, past and present—I offer my heartfelt thanks on this day of remembrance.