Aging warriors remember relatives in the Great War

The salute came from the Greatest Generation to the generation that came before it, and it was both sobering and uplifting.

At the Lehigh Valley Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge meeting last week, World
War II veterans and their wives saluted their relatives who were the doughboys
of World War I.

Lionel Adda had an uncle, Lionello Adda, who was a machine gunner in the Italian army and fought on the Trentino Front in northern Italy.  Don Burdick’s brother-in-law, Thomas Collins, was gassed and wounded by machine-gun fire, and died Nov. 12, 1918, the day after the armistice. Mark Kistler’s uncle, Laird E.A. Kern, was an infantry private killed the day the armistice was signed.

The Bulge vets got a fact sheet on the Great War, showing there were 53,513 battlefield deaths and 204,002 wounded from among 2.17 million doughboys overseas.

For me, the most enjoyable part of the luncheon meeting, held for the first time at the Northampton Memorial Community Center – the Bulge vets’ new home – was hearing these folks in their late 80s and beyond sing two rousing songs from the World War I era, Irving Berlin’s Oh, How I Hate To Get Up in the Morning
and George M. Cohan’s Over There, which has as part of one verse.

Pack your little kit, show your grit, do your bit,
Yankees to the ranks from the towns and the tanks
Make your mother proud of you and the old red white and blue.

The doughboys would do that, and their sons – among them the
Bulge vets who gathered in Northampton – would do it in the war that followed.

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