Today, Tuesday – August 31, 2011 would be my dad’s 93rd birthday if he was still alive, but sadly, he isn’t. He died 17 years ago.
It’s early morning that I’m writing this part of the editorial, which I will finish later this afternoon, or even early evening before I’ll publish it to the Web Site.
The reason for writing this in two parts, is that I’ll soon get on my Motorcycle and ride the hour and a bit into Montreal to pay my respects to my dad on the day that he was born.
I don’t remember ever taking either of my parents for granted, but, as I’m getting older (61 years old), I’m appreciating both of them more than I could have ever imagined I would when I was younger.
My dad was born in 1918 to immigrant parents who came to Canada several years before; not knowing the culture, the local language, or anything else.
All they knew was that in the Eastern European Region from where they came (Russia, Ukraine and Romania), life was unbearable for Jews. And for themselves and their family they wanted better.
So, to Canada they came, filled with hope and fear, with no one but the Jewish community in Montreal to help guide them. And at best, that was marginal.
My dad’s parents had 9 children; two of them were born in Europe, the rest in Canada. And unlike immigrants today, my grandparents never went to the government cap-in-hand. If anything, they wanted the least amount of contact with the government as possible.
They also didn’t have the belief that anyone owed them anything. And were grateful that they could raise their family in a country where being Jewish wasn’t a crime. And where effort had its rewards.
Coming from a big European family with very few resources meant REAL sacrifices, not the kind of crap the LEFT considers to be sacrifices, but the real-deal, where you did what you had to do to get by, because if you didn’t, the consequences were unthinkable.
My dad left school at 12 years old to deliver fruit off the back of a horse-drawn wagon. He was barely able to read and write. And with the meager money he earned at 12 years old, he gave it all into the household where his dad would give some of it back to him as sort of an allowance.
My dad’s brothers and sisters also contributed, since they all lived under the same roof and ate from the same table, and if they didn’t chip-in, who would?
In those days there was a form of community welfare, but most people would rather starve than be put on the dole. So they all worked and did what they had to do.
The early years were not easy for my dad. He grew-up on the tough streets of Montreal in the immigrant district of the “Main”, where cultures met and clashed. And from everything others told me about him, he was as street-tough as they came.
In 1939, when the Germans invaded Poland sparking World War II, my dad didn’t wait for the government of Canada to draft him into military service.
And like TENS of THOUSANDS of other young Jewish Montrealers, my dad and three of his brothers couldn’t wait to get into uniform and go after the Nazis in a meaningful way.
My dad, who barely had an education, who had no career, and very little hope for a good life understood several things with a clarity most people from the LEFT would or could NEVER understand:
1 – He knew that his country was at war, and that it was his DUTY – Let me repeat this word – DUTY . . . to stand with his country and do what all patriots must do when called upon.
2 – He also knew that the Germans were treating Jews like garbage, and that if he didn’t go to war to save them, who should?
PRIVATE ISRAEL (EDDY) GALGANOV WAS A 100% WAR HERO:
My dad left the shores of England to the invasion of Sicily in operation Husky on July 9, 1943, which was almost a year prior to D-DAY.
He was wounded at Monte Casino. And in spite of his injuries, he still kept fighting, all the while bleeding through the bandages that held his forehead intact.
During the Battle of the Bulge in the Netherlands, he was given Special Accommodation for single handedly taking out a Nazi pill-box with nothing more than his Bren-Gun and a hand-grenade, saving the lives of countless fellow soldiers.
During a lone patrol, which he did often, my dad came face to face with more than a dozen Nazi soldiers who he captured and brought back to base.
For all his heroism in addition to all of his other medals, my dad was awarded the Bronze Lion from Her Majesty Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands.
Not that many years ago, a Canadian War Historian told me after looking up my dad’s records, that had my father held rank and was not Jewish, he would have been nominated for the British Empire’s highest award, the Victoria Cross.
When my dad came home after VE-Day, he and my mom met, married, and began a family. Without getting too personal, I will tell you this:
The war had left him with plenty of physical and mental scars, which he and my mom had to deal with together, since in those days, when your service was done. It was done.
And no matter how hard he tried (and he really did), he always struggled to make a living.
But, even though things were tough in our home because of the lack of money, my two sisters and I NEVER felt deprived. There was always food on the table. We always had a roof over our heads. And even though we lived in some tough neighborhoods, we were never fearful, since we knew that Superman was our dad.
When my older sister (by 14 months) was in grade three, she actually taught my dad how to read and write as she did her homework. And by the time I was 10 years old (1960), my dad found his calling in sales, making life a whole lot easier for everyone.
In spite of everything that was stacked against my dad, he and my mom raised three good kids, and shared more than 40 years together before she passed away seven years before him.
At my dad’s funeral (standing room crowd in a very large chapel), I had the Rabbi read an excerpt from a Military History Book about just one of his WWII exploits. Amongst the printed words were:
“ABOVE AND BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY”.
Nothing else says it better about who my dad was as a Canadian, a soldier, a dad and a husband, and why he was part of the GREATEST Generation, and why I stood at his grave this morning shedding tears for that type of a guy they just don’t make any more.
I always have this strange thought and concern whenever I stand before the grave of my two parents: I hope that they’re proud of me, but especially him.
Thank you to all the people who have recently contributed to Galganov.com. It means a lot to me to know that there are people who sufficiently appreciate what I write and what I say, who show it with their financial support.
Also – I get letters and emails from people who feel bad because they are not in a position to help-out financially. DON’T FEEL BAD. These are tough times for a lot of people, making it difficult to do anything more than to just get by. But you can contribute to this Web Site in a big way just by spreading the word.
When I think of my dad and mom, which is always, and all that they had to do just to get by and raise a family, I know how good we actually have it in comparison, and that there can be a good future for all of us, only if we are prepared to fight for it.
Never give up. Never surrender. And don’t take prisoners.
Best Regards . . . Howard Galganov