The Fourth of July has come and gone, but here’s another powerful reminder of why we should always celebrate our country and honor those who fight for it.
A touching handwritten letter from a World War II soldier named Frank Keaton to his mother and father was recently unearthed. The letter was written on February 8, 1944, the day before he and his company, the U.S. Army’s 30th Infantry Division (aka Old Hickory), shipped off for duty.
In the letter, he fully acknowledges that his words may be the last ones he’ll ever write to his family. (Ultimately, he survives the war.) The whole letter is worth the read, but in the excerpt below, he explains why in his mere 31 years on Earth, he has already lived a full life and is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice. Although it was written more than 70 years ago, Keaton’s message still rings true today.
What better thing can a man ask for than a chance to fight for what he believes in, fight to give the new generation and the generations not yet born a chance to live a life like my own has been, a chance to play, to go to school and learn about the world, not just one race and one creed; a chance to love and be loved, a chance to see the greatness of the world that God has given us, and a chance to add a name to the long line of great men and women who have made names for themselves in every line of endeavor.
When I think of this my heart swells up and chokes me. Here, early in life, I’m given the opportunity to serve, to make the living of my life not in vain. Some men live a full lifetime and do not achieve this one distinction. This world conflict has given me an easy chance and a big opportunity.
According to Commentary Magazine, Keaton and his company helped secure Omaha Beach for medics before the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day. The publication writes that the brave serviceman was shot while crossing the Rhine river but refused to leave the frontlines. For his efforts, he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, Two Oak Leaf Clusters and the Purple Heart.
Keaton reportedly died at the age of 90 at his home in San Rafael, California.