I see his name every time we drive to Legoland. At first it didn’t mean much. I didn’t know him. Just some guy’s name on the side of the freeway.
But I realized later that this wasn’t some guy. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg made me aware.
Now granted Spielberg is a bowl of cinematic awesomeness, and when combined with the passion of storytelling that is Tom Hanks … man! They open your eyes and make you care about the lives of these people, people who shouldn’t be forgotten.
He had been awarded The Congressional Medal of Honor because of his courageous efforts during the Battle of Guadacanal, and was given The Navy Cross posthumously. United States Marine Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone was killed in Iwo Jima during WWII. He had just been married a couple of months before.
I enjoyed learning about his strength and character in the story, but I imagine in real life there was so much more to this down to Earth guy who believed so much in doing the right thing. He probably had a favorite baseball team, a favorite spot on the beach, a favorite meal he liked to enjoy with his mom, a favorite spot where he found peace, or something that always made him laugh.
I was sad to learn that he had died on the battlefield, bravely, but nevertheless his life ended there. But I was glad that I became aware of his story.
I had no idea who he was until 2010, and now every Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day I think of him and the sacrifices he made so that I could hang out with my kids at amusement park surrounded by Legos, or splashing in the waves at the beach. There were a lot of men, and boys, that died on the battlefield and today was one of the days that I’m reminded … Be grateful.
There are a lot of people in history that have gone unnoticed, some have dedications and plaques, while others do not. But regardless of whether they’re famous or not, they all deserve to be remembered for trying to make our world a better and safer place, in between the hamburgers on the grill or sandcastles on the beach, remembering unsung heroes is important.
They provide us with opportunities of happiness that might not have been there.