By Amanda Madenberg
In 1943, Mr. Henry Austin, only a year out of high school, was drafted for the war. Along with many other teenagers, he left his home in Brooklyn to train for the army, spending about five months in the Mississippi training camps. Austin was exposed first hand to one of the most horrific wars in the history of the world: World War II.
Austin is one of over 20 million veterans living in the United States, and he’s one of the people we celebrate each year on Veteran’s Day for service to our country. It’s important that we take a day to remember all the hardship others have experienced so we can live peacefully and relatively securely in 2014.
Austin worked hard for our country—fighting in a brutal war. After his training, he was shipped out to England when he was only 20 years old. He then went to France and started to fight the Germans. When his army marched into Austria, “there was mud, coldness and dirt,” Austin said. Austin and the army, commanded by General Patton, were called upon to fight in the war when all of the men fighting in the Battle of Bastogne had died.
When the war ended, Austin was still in Austria, and he vividly remembers when a “German airplane threw down passes to surrender.”
Afterwards, Mr. Austin traveled to Germany, where he waited for transportation to return to the United States. Soon after his return to Brooklyn, he married his high school sweetheart, to whom he has been married for 68 years. Austin had bonded with many people from the army—he’s still in touch with two close friends.
Veteran’s Day celebrates the people who have served our country. The tradition was started by Woodrow Wilson in 1919 to acknowledge the heroism of the army. “I appreciate all the celebrations,” Austin said. He pays extra attention to the American flag on Veteran’s Day because of his pride in our country. “America is the best country in the world,” he said.
Thanks to selfless people like Austin, we’re lucky enough to benefit from the peace that so many fought tirelessly to obtain.