News Article of Senator Crapo
MORE THAN JUST A NAME ON A LIST
Guest opinion submitted by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo
Contact: Susan Wheeler
MORE THAN JUST A NAME ON A LIST Guest opinion submitted by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo
It’s just a name on a list--alone, not all that powerful. That is, until you consider what it means. The name, among many of the hundreds of World War II Idaho war dead preserved by the National Archives, was that of Albert Jacobsen from Burley. While I don’t know Albert Jacobsen’s family, most importantly, I do know that he was a seaman second class in the Navy and killed in the line of duty. It seems that in our collective national memory, the passage of time obscures the individual identity of Albert Jacobsen and thousands like him, all seemingly consigned to becoming just names on a list. This is disturbing.
It’s doubtful that there are many people left who knew Albert Jacobsen. He was, like most American enlisted personnel during the war, in his early 20’s. He could have been married or had a family, but on average, our military in World War II was made up predominantly of single men.
He might have brothers or sisters, but, if they are still alive, they would be elderly now. If he has any nephews or nieces, they might know that they had an uncle who died in the war. His parents, if they were living when he went to war, are now long since gone. And it’s sad to think that they spent their remaining years knowing the loss of a child. No matter how proud they might have been of him and what he did, like any parent who has sustained that loss, they undoubtedly felt the ache in their heart to the end.
Few may have known what Albert Jacobsen’s plans were after the war. Did he want to go to college? Did he want to get married? Did he want to start his own business? Or, did he just want to go home and carry on with his life? It would be nice to know, but his aspirations, his dreams, his fears and his hopes, just like those of all the young people on that list, have faded with the passage time.
World War II has been over for sixty years and the world, after the death of Albert Jacobsen, and others like him, has moved on. These men, their memories, their friends, and everything that defined them, is quickly receding. They are young men, in a sense, frozen in time.
The tragedy would be if Albert Jacobsen and all those brave men like him, in our hearts remained, just names on a list. Though we might not be able to find out the details of their young lives, we do know they had something in common. Just like the men and women who fought and died in other wars, they gave their lives in service to their country and in the interest of protecting others. Since 2000, the Library of Congress has been collecting the memories of veterans and their friends and families in the Veterans History Project. Oral and written histories are being collected across the nation and in Idaho. For more information on this project and submitting your story or the story of a family member or friend, you can link to the Library of Congress from my website: http://crapo.senate.gov.
While I did not know Albert Jacobsen, I know that he and other Idahoans that died in World War II, and the conflicts since, did so to give future generations the security and the freedom that defines the American way of life. Without a doubt, he is so much more than a name on a list.
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