Memorial Day

By Wilhelmina Woessner, from her memoirs for her family circa 1994

The Memorial Day that stands out most for me was May 30th, 1940. That day, my family was going to march in the Memorial Day parade.  My father, who was 77 years old at the time, had been assigned the task of being Marshal of the 3rd Division during the parade. My mother was a member of the Gold Star Mothers, who were going to lead the parade in limousines. My mother didn’t want to go, but my father induced her to be in the parade to honor my brother William.

So the limousine picked up my mother, and then my hubby Bill, my father, two sons and I got in line to get in the parade as the 3rd Division. As the parade started, my mother’s limousine drove by and my dad stepped forward and spoke a few words to her. Then the limousine went on and my father said, “Mark time, we are going to be the next ones in line.”

All of a sudden, a little boy came running up to me as said, “Your little boy’s grandfather just dropped.” Bill and I jumped out of line and two men carried my father to the doctor’s office next store. The doctor ripped of the shirt and gave my father a shot of adrenaline. Then he tuned around and said, “I’m sorry, he’s gone.”

The question remained, how to tell my mother who was still in the parade. Although word passed quickly through the parade, no one told my mother. Through the ceremony, my mother kept asking, “where’s Bill? Where’s Minnie? Where are the boys?” Apparently the lady next to her said to her, “There are so many people here, you can’t see who’s who. You’ll see them later.”

When the parade was over, Mr. Muschler told her that Pop had had a bad spell and they had taken him home. He didn’t have the heart to tell her Pop had died. The Legionnaire Commander insisted on taking her home. When the limousine pulled up, Bill and I stood at the door. My mother came rushing up, “Where’s Pop? How is he?” But all we could say was, “He’s gone.”

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