A Bronze Star for my Dad: Understanding the Experiences of Life

» Posted by on Feb 24, 2014 in understanding the experiences of life | 0 comments

A Bronze Star for my Dad: Understanding the Experiences of Life

One year ago, March 8, 2013, my father was officially given the Bronze Star award, which he had been authorized in August of 1962, but never received. Calling to tell me about this small ceremony for my dad, my mother said that my daughter and I were not obligated to attend; however, in understanding the experiences of life, I know that these small events only happen once. My daughter and I did not hesitate in our desire to be a part of this event, even though I had no idea what a Bronze Star was; nevertheless, we wanted to be there!

Doc Hastings speaking prior to honoring my father with the Bronze Star, March 2013.

Doc Hastings speaking prior to honoring my father with the Bronze Star, March 2013.

Looking it up on the internet, I discovered the Bronze Star Medal was awarded to:

Any person while serving in any way in or with the United States military after 6 December 1941, that distinguished himself or herself apart from his or her comrades by brave or praiseworthy achievement or service, that did not include participation in aerial flight. The act justifying award of the medal must be performed while fighting an enemy of the United States, or while involved in conflict with an opposing/foreign force. 

Sitting with my parents at the restaurant after the ceremony; my mom, Joan Rasmussen, and my dad, Melvin O. Rasmussen, March 2013.

Sitting with my parents at the restaurant after the ceremony; my mom, Joan Rasmussen, and my dad, Melvin O. Rasmussen, March 2013.

My father is a veteran of World War II. I am very grateful that he is still alive; that is not the case for other WWII veterans.

There are still more than 1.7 million Americans alive who served in World War II, but that number is dwindling fast. Approximately every two minutes a memory of World War II – its sights and sounds, its terrors and triumphs – disappears. Yielding to the inalterable process of aging, the men and women who fought and won the great conflict are now in their 80s and 90s. They are dying quickly – at the rate of approximately 550 a day, according to recent US Veterans Administration figures. By the year 2036, the VA estimates, there will no longer be any living veterans from the conflict.

Recent newspaper clipping my dad brought to the ceremony to show those attending, March 2013.

Recent newspaper clipping my dad brought to the ceremony to show those attending, March 2013.

My dad, Melvin O. Rasmussen, served in the Army Infantry in World War II as a private first class. He spent 13 months stateside and 17 months overseas in Company B, 290th Infantry Regiment, 75th Infantry Division. He was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge and received a Purple Heart. He graduated from Pasco High School in 1940, Washington State College with a bachelor’s degree in 1950 and a bachelor’s in education in 1951 and has lived in Pasco since 1993.

He was given the Bronze Star Medal on Friday, March 8, 2013 at a special ceremony at the American Legion Post 34 in Pasco, Washington. He served in the army from 1943 to 1946 as an infantryman, fighting in Europe. He has also earned the Combat Infantryman Badge and Purple Heart Medal.

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Melvin O. Rasmussen, left, of Pasco sits with Congressman Doc Hastings, Friday during a ceremony to receive his Bronze Star Medal at the American Legion Post 34 in Pasco. Rasmussen served in the army from 1943 to 1946 as an infantryman, fighting in Europe. He has also earned the Combat Infantryman Badge and Purple Heart.

The award cannot be mailed, it has to be personally placed in the hands of the recipient by an official of the United States, which in this case, was Congressman Doc Hastings.

Bronze Star Medal awarded to my father on March 8, 2013.

Bronze Star Medal awarded to my father on March 8, 2013.

The Bronze Star Medal award states: This is to certify that the President of the United States of America authorized by executive order, 24 August 1962 has awarded The Bronze Star Medal to Private First Class Melvin O. Rasmussen, Army of the United States for meritorious achievement while serving with Company B, 1st Battalion, 209th Infantry Regiment, 75th Infantry Division in France on 13 January 1945. Private First Class Rasmussen’s outstanding performance with the 75th Infantry Division, in military operations against an armed enemy of the United States, greatly contributed to the Allied war effort in the European Theater of Operations. Private First Class Rasmussen’s exemplary performance of duty in active ground combat signifies the motto “Make Ready,” and was in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 290th Infantry Regiment and the Army of the United States. Given under my hand in the City of Washington this 12th day of February 2013.

My dad being interviewed by local media in Pasco, Washington, March 2013.

My dad being interviewed by local media in Pasco, Washington, March 2013.

Discussing the discrepancy between the authorized date and the date that he was given the award, we all marveled at the difference in time: 51 years had passed. My sister was a baby at that time, and I was still so young that I would not have remembered it; indeed, we were living in Corvallis, Oregon at the time. Understanding the experiences of life has taught me to look for the benefit not the flaw. Being given this award now allowed the grandchildren to participate. Equally notable was the fuss made by members of the American Legion Post 34, who were very generous in their time and attention for this event. The local media did not hesitate to capitalize on the situation, either.

The family standing with Doc Hastings after the cermony:

The family standing with Doc Hastings after the ceremony, March 2013.

Altogether, my dad was given a glorious “small event” and we were all delighted to see him honored. 

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