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I didn’t think I would ever get writer’s block, but after writing this column for several years, it has happened. So today my column is going to return to what many of you have told me you enjoy, stories. I promise next week I will return with more recipes.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice was declared between the Allies and Germany in World War I. Armistice Day began the following year and Nov. 11 became a federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.
My dad, Joe Vaillancourt, was a veteran. He joined the U.S.. Army when he was a young man in Boston, Mass., and after taking a cooks and bakers course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, he was assigned at Fort Knox. During World War II, he stayed stateside because of flat feet and was stationed in Camp Polk, La.
While he was stationed at Fort Knox, his platoon was on maneuvers on the banks of the Nolin River in White Mills. It was that very assignment that led him to met his future bride, my mother, at a dance held in the soldiers’ honor, and the rest is history.
It was interesting how many men met a future mate at the dance at the Richardson Hotel. A lifelong friend of Daddy’s, Tex Priest, met his wife, Mayme, at that same dance. Tex just happened to be from Texas and, like my dad, they never returned to their home states. I have a feeling that not only did they fall in love with their future spouses, they fell in love with the state of Kentucky.
My husband Mike’s parents were both in the service. His dad was in the U.S.. Army, and unlike my dad, he was actively involved in World War II. He was stationed overseas and saw action in many of the battles in Europe. Mike’s mother, Mary Rose, joined the Navy in hopes to travel the world. However, she was stationed in Washington, D.C., where she decoded messages. She never got to travel the world. After the war was over, they married and raised three children.
Living in Hardin County near Fort Knox has always had a special place in my heart because of the connection with my dad. After his Army service, he got a job in civil service, where he worked until his early death at the age of 63. To this day, I get a lump in my throat when I am on post just remembering that my dad made many steps on that very post. I also have a soft spot for a military man, knowing the connection with my dad serving in the Army. Living so close to post, I have made many military friends, which is a blessing, but it is always sad when I find out that they have to move to another installation.
My point in telling you all this is that we should honor all our past and present military men and women for their work and sacrifices. Let us always remember their stories and share them with younger generations. One way to do that is to visit our Elizabethtown Nature Park, which is off Ring Road across from the northern most point of Freeman Lake. That is where you will find the Hardin County Veterans Tribute.
The work of the committee planning this tribute is to be commended, especially Gary and Donna Broadway, Rik Hawkins and local artist Rich Griendling.
I hardly can wait to see it up close and spend time remembering my dad and my mother- and father-in-law’s experiences in their own service to our country.
Nora Sweat, author of “Mama and Me,” is a native of Hardin County and a retired home economics/family and consumer science teacher. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.