I had the honor of meeting Steve at a Slovak Historical Society picnic some years ago.
As we spoke, someone mentioned that Steve had been a Marine and fought at Iwo Jima, among other places. I asked him to tell me more, since my own uncle, Steve Martis had been a Marine, and my father, Andrew Krizan, fought in Normandy.
The story Steve told me, very matter of factly, transfixed me for it contained stunning elements of courage and tragedy as he recounted watching his fellow Marines fall around him as they fought inland. He described his terror to me and how he thought he would never leave the island alive.
Though a veteran myself, the tales of valor told by these men of our "Greatest Generation", without any self aggrandizement, move me deeply. I thanked Steve for fighting for my future while I was still an infant. I felt honored beyond belief to stand in the presence of a man of such courage.
As we shook hands, I could see tears in Steve's eyes. He said, "In all the years since I returned, NO one has EVER thanked me for my service. Thank YOU for your kindness." Then it was my turn to "tear up".
How soon we Americans forget our veterans and what they sacrificed for us. Thank God for them, standing in harm's way in our behalf. May Steve rest in peace in that special place God keeps separate for his young men and women of every generation who assure our freedoms and our future, while asking nothing for themselves.
"At the setting of the sun, and at its rising, we shall remember them----."