Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02)
Born in the 1920s, he grew up in the Depression of the 1930s poor, like most rural American children. Fresh vegetables were grown in the family garden behind the small frame house. His mother made sandwiches for school out of homemade bread. Store-bought bread was for the rich. He grew up belonging to the Boy Scouts, playing the trumpet in the high school band, and he went to church on most Sundays.
In 1944, this 18-year-old country boy that had never been more than 50 miles from home, finally found himself going through basic training in the United States Army at Camp Walters, Texas. After that he rode the train with hundreds of other young teenagers, American males, to New York City for the ocean trip on a cramped Liberty ship to fight in the great World War II.
As a soldier in the 7th Army, he went from France on to survive the Battle of the Bulge and through the cities of Aachen, Stuttgart, Cologne, and Bonn. As a teenager, he saw the concentration camps and the victims of the Nazis. He saw incredible numbers of other teenage Americans buried in graves throughout France. A monument to those soldiers is at Normandy.
After Germany surrendered, he went back to Fort Hood, Texas, expecting to be re-equipped for the land invasion of Japan. It was there he met Mom at a Wednesday night "prayer meeting" church service.
Until a few years ago, this GI, my dad, would never talk about World War II. He still will not say much except the heroes are the ones buried in Europe today.
After the war he opened a DX service station where he pumped gas, sold tires, fixed cars, and began a family. Deciding he needed to go to college, he moved to West Texas and enrolled in a small Christian college called Abilene Christian College. He and his wife and his two small children lived in an old converted army barracks with other such families. He supported us by working nights at KRBC radio and climbing telephone poles for "Ma Bell,'' later called Southwestern Bell.
He finished college, became an engineer and worked 40-plus years for Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in Houston, Texas. He turned down a promotion and a transfer to New York City because it was not Texas and he said "no place to raise a family.''
Dad instilled in my sister and me the values of being a neighbor to all, loving our country, loving our heritage, and always just doing the right thing to all people.
He still gets mad at the Eastern Media. He flies the flag on holidays. He goes to church on Sunday, and he takes Mom out to eat almost every Friday night. He stands in the front yard and talks to his neighbors. He can fix anything. He still mows his own grass even though he is 83 years of age. And he has a strong opinion on politics and world events. He gives plenty of advice to all people, including me. He has two computers in his home office. He sends e-mails to hundreds of his buddies all over the world. Dad and Mom still live in Houston, Texas, close to where I grew up.
On this Memorial Day we honor those who fought in the great World War II and the victory in Europe ñ honoring the sacrifices of those that did not return and remembering those that did. We remember not only my dad, but all of those American heroes. My dad was one of those individuals. He is the best man I ever met. One of the charter members of the Greatest Generation - Virgil Poe, good man, good father. That is plenty for one life.
And thatís just the way it is.