Some Memorial Day Thoughts
With Memorial Day weekend approaching, I’d like to tell a story about a Marine. I’m sure most of you have seen the famous photo on the right. The man on the left was Sgt Michael Strank, Mike was one of the six Marines in that photograph. Mike was my grandmother’s second cousin. His grandfather and grandmother’s grandmother were brother and sister. Mike was born in Jarabina, Slovakia. He came to this country, a little younger than my niece is now. He didn’t know English upon first arriving and faced some difficulty learning the language. During the middle of the depression, Mike joined the CCC and helped with many CCC projects. In 1939, not long after the Germans invaded Czechoslovakia and before Pearl Harbor and indeed even when most Americans felt indifferent about that “European conflict”, Mike enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Mike perhaps probably hoped he’d be sent to Europe to possibly liberate his home country from Nazi tyranny. But fate as it does have a way had a different future for Michael Strank. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the Marines were in the Pacific Theater of operation. Mike served in the Marines throughout WWII when one day in 1945, he and five other Marines were immortalized in Joe Rosenthal’s photograph. Mike would never live to see how iconic that photo became. He died not even a week after it was taken. This really isn’t a patriotic story but more about the story of us, the men and women who have risked and given their lives for our country come from many backgrounds. Mike wasn’t any less of a patriot or a Marine than Harlon Block because he was born in Slovakia. Just as immigrants you’ll meet aren’t any less than you because of their place of birth. America’s motto is E pluribus unum, out of many one, one. We come from different places but we’re here.