Lesson From a Green Soldier
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Politics and Activism

Lesson From a Green Soldier

A summary of a soldier's service and what can be learned from it.

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Lesson From a Green Soldier

Donald L. MacDonald was the son of Reginald and Mary MacDonald and a soldier of the 106th Infantry Division, who served in World War II. He was also an uncle I never got the chance to meet. I thought that time had separated any sort of connection I would have with him. However, while traveling to his grave site in the Saint Avold U.S. Military Cemetery, I realized we were closer than I thought. My family and I were flipping through documents that outlined the story of Donnie’s service and his death, reading off some and fumbling over the names of foreign cities, and I came upon a picture of my great grandmother, who was Donnie’s sister. While she passed when I was young, I can distinctly remember her spunky and headstrong personality. I hadn’t realized that if it hadn’t been for the Battle of the Bulge, I might have met Donnie who, before, seemed to be more of a character from a book than a relative.

Donnie was part of the division that fought in the Battle of the Bulge and a member of the 423rd regiment. After being surrounded by the Nazis, every soldier of the 422nd and the 423rd regiments was either killed or captured -- with the exception of a small handful of men -- including Donnie. He was taken to a prisoner of war camp where he contracted pneumonia. He was sent to a small hospital for prisoners, to be treated, but they were unable to help him due to insufficient supplies. According to a letter from Donnie’s fellow soldier, he was sent to a larger civilian hospital where we was treated with respect. Unfortunately, there was nothing that could be done, and on April 3, 1945, Donnie passed as a result of pneumonia and malnutrition, near Zeitz, Germany.

I learned something from reading about Donnie’s life, and what impacted me the most was a comment found in the February 8, 1945 edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer about the battle that lead to Donnie’s imprisonment, “They were green, but they knew why they were there.”

When we are young, we don’t always know how to do something perfectly, and we make decisions simply because we know we have a job to do. Whether that be getting through a rough day, a hard class, or personal turmoil -- sometimes, we have to do it, not because we’re sure of ourselves, but because we’re sure of our cause.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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