War's lasting effects
By Matt Soper
Published Wednesday, November 25, 2015 2:33 pm
Delta County Historical Society photo Delta Museum's special World War II exhibit opened Nov. 7, with living veterans sharing their stories and a presentation made to Ensign Bellmire's family. Bellmire was killed during a training exercise during the war.
"The war took my dad. He wasn't going to knock on my door and tell me it was all a mistake," Vicky Lehmann said during an emotional interview.
Lehmann had just turned one year old when her father was shot in the head and killed by a German sniper during the Battle of Normandy. This past summer, Lehmann and her husband, Dave, traveled to France, for the first time, to visit her father's grave and pay their respects.
"I longed, growing up, to sit on my daddy's lap, but that never happened," Lehmann said.
"Being able to see his grave brought the closure I needed."
Descendents of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the liberation of the European continent from the Nazis are treated with esteem, respect and attention by the American Battlefield Monuments Commission. Families are provided service records and a graveside memorial in which American and French flags are laid at the marker.
"At the grave, they told me my dad was a hero. I had never thought of my dad as being a hero. They explained that he saved a lot of people by helping to end the war and rescue them from Nazi oppression," Lehmann said. "I thought, 'This is kind of an awesome thought.' "
The effects of World War II are long-reaching and Lehmann is not alone in feeling that the war took her dad.
Muriel Marshall, in her book, Where Rivers Meet, describes how Alvin Lee Marts, who enlisted in the Navy after he graduated from Delta High School, was present during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Marts went on to "serve at Midway, Wake and other South Pacific battles, but he was killed in action off the coast of Salvo Island on Nov. 30, 1942," Marshall wrote.
Marts served with such distinction and bravery that the U.S. Navy named the USS Marts for him and the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organized as the Lee Marts VFW Post 3571.
The total number of American servicemen and women who gave their lives for their nation during World War II was 407,300. Over 700 men and women from Delta County served in the armed forces during the war, and 83 lost their lives.
The Delta Museum has included a table setting in its special World War II veterans' exhibit to symbolize those who served but never returned home to join their families for holiday festivities.