War Through the Eyes of a Veteran’s Family

Beth Harpaz has been a member of a veteran’s family her entire life. Her father, David Jackendoff, was one of thousands of soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy during the invasion known as D-Day. She remembers today, leading up to the invasion’s seventieth anniversary, just what it was like to be a member of a veteran’s family, especially that of a soldier who fought such a well-known battle.

Harpaz remembers that her father’s stories were always a large presence in lengthier family conversations, though she lacked interest in them while still in her youth. It did not help that the Vietnam War was always in the background, and even for a veteran’s family, war was not favored at the time. Her father’s status as a paratrooper for the 101st Airborne unit did not change this fact. Even if it had, she simply was not old enough to realize the significance of the battle in which her father had fought during the Second World War.

She grew to regret her lack of interest when she began to mature and see history in a different light. While she may have missed out on some of Jackendoff’s stories, part of membership in a veteran’s family is that certain keepsakes get left behind. For Harpaz, such keepsakes where photographs as well as recordings of several interviews her father gave for television programs and radio shows. She now has digital copies of all these things, the Yahoo News reports.

These interviews have allowed her to experience the stories she missed out on as a child. She learned of her father’s brave exploits taking out machine gun nests and his participation in the Battle of the Bulge. She realized that her membership in a veteran’s family had taught her little or nothing about the heroics of the WWII era and even less about her father’s fight with survivor guilt.

Many would assume that a veteran’s family should understand war better than most other civilians, but the experiences of Beth Harpaz show that anyone can take history for granted. The fact that she grew up hearing the stories may have even desensitized her to some aspects of the conflict. She knew that her father had two Bronze Stars, but did not fully understand why. She now has a better understanding of his allegiance to his war buddies and his love of the brandy he drank during the Normandy campaign. More than anything, she has an increased respect for what it means to be part of a veteran’s family.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE