• The National WWII Museum Blog
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Thank You For My Freedom

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On October 5, 2011, The National WWII Museum launched a national initiative designed to remind people of the sacrifices our veterans have made for the nation. Our website, MyVeteransDay.org offers an opportunity to say “thank you” to all of the brave men and women who have served in wartime and peacetime. Visitors to the site can submit a written tribute, snap a photo of themselves or a veteran or submit a short video that shows their gratitude.

The goal is to gather a million of these “thank yous” before Veterans Day on November 11, 2011. Add your voice at MyVeteransDay.org

This very personal tribute was submitted by Sascha Jean Jansen, an ex-Santo Tomas civilian prisoner of the Japanese.


Their names were Joe, Scotty, Rusty, Hank and Shotsy. They hailed from Wetumpka, Alabama, Beryl, Utah, and Barstow, California. From small hamlets, farmlands, sunny beaches and dusty roads of the Alamo, they came. Some were young, some much older, others were just kids. Age did not matter. When they reached us, they were all well seasoned and battle worn.

As prisoners, we were waiting for them for over three years, when on February 3, 1945, among flares and gun fire, they crashed through the gates of Santo Tomas Internment Camp with their tanks of massive steel.

I have a feeling that when the Flying Column of the 1st Cavalry Division,  the 44th Tank Battalion, and the Buckeyes from the 37th Infantry Division headed south from the Northern part of Luzon, little did they know that among the intense fighting they would be taking care of so many civilians and “baby sitting” hundreds of kids for so many weeks. We were free but still endured hostage taking and shelling. We were the front lines and the night belonged to all of us. The Battle for Manila was on.

From the onset, we took good care of each other. They fed us and protected us. We washed their uniforms and lovingly washed and darned their socks. We bolstered each others’ egos, laughed at each others jokes and exchanged war stories with sadness and humor. They spoke tenderly of their loved ones back home. And we listened. When they rotated back out of the camp to battle the enemy, we waited for their return. When they returned, we rejoiced. When they didn’t come back, we felt a deep loss.

We shared our run down shanties with them. They slept dog tired, in, under and all around our sawali shacks and meager abodes – anywhere to be close to us.  They told us kids how ice cream tasted, what a roller coaster ride felt like  and if the Brooklyn Dodgers were going to win the pennant that year.  They longed for home – sledding in the winter and the swimming holes in  the summertime. Because of these exceptional men, we were given another  chance at life, though many of them lost their own in saving ours.

Today, many years later, when we meet our heroes at reunions, it is a glorious event. We hug, laugh, and yes, shed a few tears. It is a relationship hard to define – one life responsible for another. Perhaps a “high plane of intimacy” is appropriate if you will.

Because so many of our liberators have gone their way, we turn to their families whom we have befriended over the years and still stay close. This is an on going legacy of our liberation and our freedom.

When we say “thank you” to these gentle men, a mantle of great discomfort falls over them. “No, dear,” they say humbly, squeezing your hand. “It was only my job.”

And what a hell of a job that was !

Visit MyVeteransDay.org to submit your "thank you" and see tributes, photos and videos.

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3 Responses to “Thank You For My Freedom”

rishi kulkarni (im awsome) says:

you were fighting for our country. think about it. you almost gave over your whole life for the protection of our country. and i want to thank you for that. so……..THANK YOU oh and you a hero.


Thank You,

THANK YOY SOOOOOOO MUCH for giving us freedom and never forget it. I hope that you were not disapointed or hurt when you weere in the milatary but were always therer for you.

Haley says:

Thank you for fighting for my country also the nations freedom. I hope you are doing well and I hope you and your family are safe. I also hope you get to see your family soon. I wish you a good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,goood,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good,good, thanksgiving

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