Saturday, January 29, 2011

Great Uncle Willie and Other Family Surprises

My Medals-Sheva Apelbaum

Several times a year we go to the cemetery to visit relatives that passed away.  On my last visit I noticed that on the button of the tomb stone of my great uncle Willie, there was an inscription that read “PURPLE HEART”. Not knowing what this meant, I asked my dad.

Tomb Stone

My dad told me that the purple heart was a military decoration given to soldiers serving in the US military who were either wounded or killed  in action. I knew that my Great Uncle Willie had lost one of his legs after he stepped on a mine during WWII, but I didn’t connect that story to the award.  

As it turns out, my family has all kind of interesting service stories, including service in the German Air Force during WWI (with an award of an Iron Cross), Polish Uhlan Calvary, and my dad serving as a Paratrooper in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Purple Heart-Sheva Apelbaum Iron Cross-Sheva Apelbaum IDF Paratrooper Wings-Sheva Apelbaum

It is interesting how one’s family’s experiences can be so unrelated and yet at the same time have so much in common. But perhaps that's what families are all about.


  1. ...a poignant and historically fascinating post, Sheva!

  2. Yes dear - as Shachar says it!!