Remembrance and Respect This Veterans Day
By Irving Liebowitz
RiverWalk resident and Korean War Veteran
It was March 1951. Our country was at war after North Korea invaded South Korea. I was working with my dad in his floor covering business in Brooklyn. Then the draft notice came. I was to report to a building on Whitehall Street in Manhattan. I had gotten drafted in the Army. I felt patriotic at that moment. This was my country and I wanted to protect it.
As a new recruit, I underwent numerous tests – from medical history to reading ability. Several weeks later, I was on a bus to Camp Kilmer in New Jersey, and then on to Fort Dix. Mornings began for us at 5am. Each day, we trained. We learned that we were now part of a team – it was no longer about our differences, but the importance of unity. Since I had never been to summer camp as a kid, it was a little strange being in a big room – twenty of us – out in the open, and living in close quarters. Physical training included marching, running, and learning how to assemble, clean and shoot a gun.
After 13 weeks of basic training, we simulated warfare conditions for a week. Disheveled and exhausted, I was sent to the hospital by my commanding officer and the rest of the company went to Korea. I stayed behind and recovered in the hospital. I would never see my infantrymen again. Although I will never know for sure, I fear they died in Korea after the Chinese rushed in and attacked our soldiers.
After leaving the hospital, I was shipped overseas to Germany. From there, I was assigned to France to work in a huge warehouse with all kinds of supplies, working at a desk recording what NATO countries ordered. For every soldier on the frontline, there are 17 men and women supporting this soldier. These 17 people are critical support for those who face the enemy in battle. My role was to keep track of inventory – what went in, what went out – and what had to be reordered. This was my life for two years before returning to the United States.
That was 1953. Sixty-seven years later, at age 90, I am proud to raise the POW-MIA flag on the campus of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale for the first time. POW means Prisoner of War and MIA means Missing In Action. These are service people who gave their lives for our country. They should be remembered and honored. They should never be forgotten. The Jewish War Veterans 652 provided us with this flag, and we will raise it with pride this Veterans Day.
Veterans are brothers. We have a very strong bond and we must keep this bond alive. The key is remembrance. That is the key. It is part of our country’s history. On this Veterans Day, may God Bless America.