Shared Stories: My Family of Veterans

As we celebrate our nation’s birthday this Fourth of July, we also salute the men and women who have served our country so unselfishly. Dora Silvers grew up in New Jersey, not far from New York City. After World War II, she and her husband settled in Norwalk where they raised five children. In this piece she recalls her family’s military contributions and her wish for peace. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles from a writing class held every Thursday at the Norwalk Senior Center. Curated by Carol Kearns.

By Dora Silvers

My father came from Russia in 1914. His uncle sponsored him. He drove a horse and wagon to West Point and continued on to his uncle’s cleaning establishment in Newburg, New York. He met a lot of generals, and they encouraged him to enlist in the army in 1917. That was World War I.

My father went to Cooks and Bakers School and took a crash course in French. He was sent to France where he was injured in the leg and had shell shock from the mustard gas.

My father was a great cook. My mother had six children, and whenever she went to the hospital to deliver a baby, she had to stay there for eight days, so Papa did the cooking. He made my favorite hamburger with lots of fried onions, no buns. This was before McDonald’s.

My brother Jay enlisted in the army during World War II. He also went to Cooks and Bakers School. Jay was on a hospital ship that went to Germany. When he arrived, he was summoned by an officer and asked, “Why are you still here? I sent you back to the States as you completed too many reconnaissance missions.”

Jay replied, “That must be my cousin. He’s over six feet tall and has dark hair. I am only 5 feet 8 inches and have blond hair.”

After looking up some records, the officer apologized and excused Jay. They both had the same name, Jack Phillip Edelman. Jay found out that his cousin was on the tailgate of a plane and took pictures over Germany that helped us win the war.

My brother Jay became a chef in a hotel in Atlantic City. Then he opened his own business.
My brother Sam enlisted in the army in 1952, and was sent to the Philippines. He was my baby brother, the youngest of six children. When he came home, he had a bakery and deli.

My husband Jack enlisted in the Navy in 1944. He was on an oil tanker that went to North Africa, England and Scotland. After he came home in 1948, he went to refrigerator and air conditioning school. Jack and I were married in 1949, and we moved to California.

My son Mitchell enlisted in the Marines in 1967. He went to Vietnam and died under fire in 1968. I miss Mitchell. He was my firstborn and a wonderful son. In the summer he would help the neighborhood boys get fishing rods ready, and then take them to the lake in Whittier to go fishing.

Now, I want all of our troops overseas to come home. No more wars, just peace.