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A holiday that needed to be stretched out

By Jim Busek • Nov 18, 2019 at 8:00 PM

They had the big flag out at the Norwalk VFW for several days last week.

Char and I sat in the parking lot on one of those days and watched the amazing huge stars-and-stripes ripple in the gentle breeze. The sight of it still gets me.

The flag was undoubtedly out for one of its too-infrequent appearances in honor of Veterans Day.

Veterans Day on the calendar, of course, is just one day. But — and I think this is wonderful — the celebration of our nation’s veterans and the sacrifices they made (and make) now stretches across several days. For instance, there were stories in this newspaper and activities in schools on days before and after the actual national holiday.

Then again, when you consider the weeks and months and years that military men and women are asked to spend away from home, often in very uncomfortable and/or dangerous places, it only seems right that we would take a few days each year to say thanks.

This really came home to me as I put together a feature story on Gurdon Bores of Monroeville. The story appeared the Saturday before Veterans Day, Nov. 9. And I really hope you got a chance to read it.

Mr. Bores is one of our few surviving World War II veterans. And he was not just in the war, he was in the absolute thick of the conflict, surviving six—six!—major battles in the South Pacific as the allies stormed the Japanese-occupied barrier islands that protected Japan from invasion.

Tens of thousands of military personnel were involved in those battles. But Mr. Bores earned a feature story in this newspaper for several reasons.

He is still alive — and vital and scrappy — at age 94.

His niece, Maria Temple and her husband, Paul, brought his story to my attention, set up my interview and then provided tons of helpful information and photographs to flesh out the story.

Most importantly, Mr. Bores kept a written journal of his military exploits, starting with the day he enlisted. Thus, there were no foggy or faulty recollections of what happened and when — Gurdon Bores had it all detailed in concise-yet-vivid prose, entered in his journal within hours of each occurrence. It is spellbinding to read.

As I have said to several people in the days since my Reflector story appeared, “Think of a time when you came terrifyingly close to personal danger or destruction. Maybe you can think of a couple such instances over your entire life, right? Well, Mr. Bores and his thousands of allied companions had moments like that nearly every day for the better part of a year.”

If you missed my Nov. 9 story, just Google “Gurdon Bores, Norwalk Reflector.” It will put you as close to being in an actual war as I hope you ever get.

The idea was for World War II to be a war to end all wars.

But, of course, that didn’t happen. Shortly after the troops got home and re-settled came the nasty conflict in Korea.

And then there was Vietnam.

And then Iraq. And Iraq again. And Afghanistan. And who knows what covert and dangerous military things are going on elsewhere in the world.

Much of it is political or ideological craziness, little understood by, well, anybody.

But we ask these guys to go and they do. Most of them do not keep detailed diaries of their time on those battlegrounds as Gurdon Bores did. In fact, many of them do not speak of their service experiences at all.

But all we really need to know is they did it on behalf of the United States of America. For us.

So taking a few days every November — and in between when we get a chance — to say thank you is the least we can do.

Jim Busek is a freelance writer who lives in Norwalk. He can be reached vie email at [email protected]

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