A Moment for America’s Veterans


I write a lot about how much I love Japan, but I’m also so grateful to be an American.  Living abroad for an extended time showed some of America’s weaknesses but also her unyielding strengths unmatched by no other country, in particular the extent of diversity and entrepreneurial spirit found in so many citizens. Today, on Veterans Day, I visited the gravestones of my three grandfathers who served in WWII.  My father’s biological father, Nicholas J. Neises, a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne, was killed in action in France in 1944, and he now rests eternally in Normandy. He never came home from war to meet his infant son. His parents, Nicholas and Clara, are buried in Saint Mary Catholic Cemetery in Evergreen Park, not far from my hometown.  My sister has been researching our grandfather’s life and she discovered that his parents dedicated their burial plot to their late son. They lived some twenty years after their son’s death, harboring in them a pain that only parents who have lost a child can understand.  My father went to the gravestone for the first time today.  “You could tell (his death) really affected them,” he said while clearing the gravestone of leaves.  We also visited the graves of my maternal grandfather, William J. Donahue, and my father’s adoptive father, Edward J. Burt, Sr., who raised my father as his own.  Both men served in the Navy and rarely talked about their experience though without a doubt it was traumatizing and life-changing. America would not be the great country it is today without their dedication and the service of countless others.  I salute and remember them now and always, no matter what country I am in.

Neises Burt Donahue


Author: Sheila Burt


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