During World War II there was a call to action for professional men- doctors, dentists and such- to join the military. There was a shortage of medical staff that could help care for the troops both in the US and abroad. My grandfather was one of the many who joined. He was very proud of his service, and often spoke about his time with me. From what I understand there were many professional men who answered the call and served in one way or another. He was a captain and was stationed with the US Army Air Corps, which later became the US Air Force. I love the photos we have of him in his uniform. He is actually smiling in one of them.
His sacrifice was being away from his family. My mother was born in 1942 and there are pictures of her as a toddler on the base wearing his officer’s hat. When fellow officers went by he would have her salute them. I loved all of his stories but hearing him talk about being in the service were my favorites. His pride was contagious and I was proud of him for making the decision to enlist. When he passed away I asked my mother about giving him military honors. I am so glad I made the suggestion. The experience of seeing the flag draped over his casket, watching the soldiers fold the flag and present it to my mother- is something I will never forget as long as I live. It changed me as a person and I feel connected to something special. I am now a person who tears up when she hears the Star Bangled Banner, Taps, or the theme song to ‘Band of Brothers’. He didn’t see any combat, but seeing the military take care of one of their own even though it had been decades since he wore that uniform made me appreciate the armed forces much more than I did before. It doesn’t matter if you saw a battlefield or treated the men who were heading to the battlefield.
My grandfather was the last in our family to have served the Armed forces. When he came back my uncle was born and the family moved into the house on Mt. Pleasant street which would become the Keller headquarters for many years. The synagogue was in need of repair and he convinced other servicemen to donate their government wages to the rebuilding of the synagogue on Pleasant street. When there was a need, he would do what he could to help. I wish he was here so I could thank him, but I thanked every veteran I saw today on his behalf.
Isabelle is named for him- his first name was Israel. I miss him terribly and know how much he would have enjoyed my girls. Judging from how much he adored my oldest, I am sure he would have spoiled them! I was so lucky to have such an incredible man as my grandfather, and I am so grateful I was able to tell him that when he was still in front of me.