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Published 12:00 am Monday, July 24, 2000


  Wash. Post


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Harold Keller / L’Observateur / July 24, 2000

The day after the opening of the D-Day National Museum in New Orleans, I spoke to Mrs. Irene Lovelady as we met at Delchamps. She was all excitedthat she and her husband, Robert (Bob), had witnessed the parade on that day to honor all the veterans of the different wars. She proceeded to tellme that her husband was a World War II veteran, and that they were going to New Albany, Ind., for a reunion with Mr. Bob’s army buddies who wereassigned to the Third Army under the command of Gen. George Patton. Itold her to have her husband call me when they returned because I was interested in hearing about his experiences during the war.

When the Loveladys returned from the reunion, Mr. Bob wrote me a letterand described the reunion experience. Wanting to know more, I called andasked if we could meet to discuss his war experiences. He graciouslyagreed.

We met this past Tuesday. I found out a lot about Mr. Bob and his wife.Both were raised in Alabama. They will celebrate 60 years of marriagenext May 29. They have one daughter, Barbara, who is married to Edward”Butch” Diaz, and two grandchildren, Trey and Robby.

Mr. Bob was called to active duty in 1943 as a private and served until1946. He saw action in Europe, including the Battle of the Bulge. He wasawarded the Bronze Star. When discharged, he was a second lieutenant, asa result of a battlefield commission. He shared with me that while still inthe Army, after the war was over, he was in Switzerland and was able to phone Mrs. Irene in Alabama. It had been two years since they had talked. Itstruck me then, as much as ever, the sacrifice some people paid for our freedom – fighting a war, unselfishly doing his job, and not being able to speak to the love of his life for almost two years.

While visiting Mr. Lovelady, he showed me a little book he put together forhis two grandsons. It tells the story of his youth, his marriage, the war,and his life after the war.

Mr. Bob retired from the Standard Coffee Company in 1983, after 35 yearsof service. He spoke highly of the company and considered it a privilege tohave been employed with them.

Looking back, he said that the war was the best of times and the worst of times. Worst because young men had to leave home, family and friends topossibly face death on foreign soil. The best because it was a great timeto live. Patriotism was at an all-time high and there was much love forfellow men and country – a time that everyone pulled together to get the job done.

Mr. Bob said that looking back after almost eight decades of life, there area lot of changes he would make if he had to live life over again. He saidthat he would strive to live closer to God and added, “Contrary to what some people believe, God is real!” He also said that he would try to be more understanding of other people and try never to hurt another human being, either through careless words or actions. “I would be more serious about getting a well-roundededucation and concentrate more on being a better communicator and a good public speaker,” he said.

As our conversation continued, he said that he would devote more time to making his community a better place to live.

“One thing I would not change is the opportunity I had to serve my country,” he said. “This is a great country we live in. With all its faults,the U.S.A. is still the greatest and I’m proud to be an American. I considerit a privilege to have served three years helping to defend our democracy, and if it were ever necessary, I’m sure Trey and Robby would also serve their country, with pride.”As I left his home, I realized why America has been blessed and why his generation has been labeled, “the greatest of all.” It’s because of peoplelike Mr. Bob.May God bless you and Mrs. Irene! You both have been an asset to ourcommunity.

HAROLD KELLER writes this column as part of his affiliation with the Get High on Life religious motivational group.

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