Morris Hamblin: An Unsung Hero
A Tribute to My Father
Dictionary.com defines an unsung hero as "a person who makes a substantive yet unrecognized contribution; a person whose bravery is unknown or unacknowledged". Of all the people I have known in my life, these words fit my father most of all.
Of course there is one glowing exception--at least one person recognized his contribution and bravery. Me. Morris Hamblin was a soldier, a husband, and a father. And in each role in his life, he was a hero.
Photo Credit: All family pictures used on this page are from the photo album of Belinda342
Morris Hamblin: The Soldier
WWII Army Infantry
My father toured the world in the 1940's. It wasn't nearly as glamorous as it sounds. That's because he was in uniform at the time. No fancy bars or stripes for him, a simple Army enlisted man fighting for the freedom of people he had never met, and for the safety of those he had left at home.
In his later years, I would ask him about the war. He would always tell the same stories. Eventually I knew them by heart. But I kept asking him anyway. I knew he loved to tell them. And it wasn't really the stories I was listening to. It was that little lilt in his voice and the pride in his eyes that always kept me coming back for more.
Being a girl, I got mostly stories about the people he met. (I heard a lot about his Italian girlfriend--but only when Mom wasn't in the room.) I imagine if I'd been a boy, the stories he told might have been different ones entirely. But I was okay with that. I know he was in Africa, France, Italy, and even Germany in the war. Unfortunately, I know little of the battles he was in, though he did speak once of being close enough to the Battle of the Bulge to hear the gunfire.
I have a precious souvenir from WWII, one confiscated by my dad in Germany. A German Mauser rifle. It is truly a thing of beauty. That was a story I heard often. You see, he had confiscated two rifles--but the Army was limiting them to only be able to send one back home. An army on the move didn't have room to waste packing non-essentials, so he threw the other one over a bridge and into deep water to keep it from returning into enemy hands. When he got back to camp, he learned that the restriction had been lifted. At that point, he would always shake his head and give a little sigh. I'm betting that his reaction back in the 40's wasn't nearly so calm.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons Public Domain
"Yesterday, December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - The United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan...As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense...With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounded determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God."
President F.D. Roosevelt - December 8th, 1941
WWII On YouTube - Great Clips From Actual WWII News Reels
My Father: The Poet
Well, Maybe Not
In his younger days (pre-mom), my father was a bit of a lady's man. In the war, especially in Italy it seemed, he would save his candy ration. Then he would use the allotted hard lumps of flavored sugar to lure the girls into his manly trap. According to the smile on his face when telling me this--and the fact of his Italian girlfriend--I can only assume it worked.
He even told me his own personal pick-up line. His was a poem, thought up by himself. I should add a warning before presenting it here, though. Once you read it, the poem will stay with you forever. At least, it has with me.
My father's poem:
I like your complexion.
I'm going your direction.
I'd like to be your protection.
If you got no objection.
Sometimes I wonder if he ever used that on Mom...
Unsung Hero Morris Hamblin: Husband
My parents were hillbillies. I don't mean that disrespectfully either. In fact, I say it with pride.
They were born in a different place and time. The hills and hollers of Kentucky in the earlier 1900's were not the modern towns and cities of today that we are all used to. In was unlikely then that a child would receive a high school education. In fact, Mother only completed the third grade. Father completed the sixth grade. Another reason they are both heroes to me. But don't correlate lack of education with lack of intelligence. My parents were two of the smartest people I've ever known. They were smart in what truly counted. Family and love.
My mother told me about my dad's very early years. Their relationship began as more of a hate than love. She was from a poorer family, and my father's parents owned a tobacco farm and were fairly well off for that time frame. He was also about five years older than her and teased her a lot. From what I know of boys, that may have been a result of him liking her. With little boys, that seems to be the case.
Things changed between them when he came back from the war. My mother's brother was over there too, only he didn't come home. I think maybe that brought them closer together. I know that once my father decided on Mom, there was no turning back for him. Not ever. They were married February 15, 1947. They had planned the wedding for Valentine's day, but a snow storm made them postpone it by a day.
"Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate."
Barnett R. Brickner
Morris Hamblin: Father
Yep, That Little Blonde Haired Beauty is Me
My father, God bless him, had four daughters and no sons. Can you imagine being the only male in a house with five women and only one bathroom? It's small wonder that Dad spent a lot of time either in the garden, the barn, or the basement. Where he was usually depended on the time of the year and what animals we owned at the time.
Father was a good provider. His education (and a ruptured hernia he got from WWII) kept him from ever earning very much at a job. But I never remember him ever being unemployed. He usually worked for machine shops. I remember him talking once about making razor blades. My point is that even though he couldn't have made much money with the jobs he had--we kids never did without.
Every year we had a big garden, and would store potatoes in a large bin in the basement for use throughout the year. My mom would can the other vegetables. Tomatoes, green beans, and various others all in jars lined up in colorful rows in our basement. We also raised cows for beef for the freezer, and chickens for eggs and, well...chicken. We used every thing, too. The feathers from the chicken that provided us with supper were put to use to make fresh pillows for our beds. I don't know what Dad did with the beaks, but knowing him, he found a use for them.
Dad took his job of family protector very seriously...and that went double for his girls. Remember that Mauser rifle I mentioned? Every time a Hamblin daughter brought home a prospective suitor, dad would be in the living room cleaning that rifle. He never openly threatened any of them, but the message somehow got through. Let's just say that second dates were scarce...
"Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance."
Ruth E. Renkel
Morris Hamblin: Husband Part 2
A True Hero
The picture you see here was taken the Christmas before Mom's stroke. She had already been diagnosed with Alzheimers, but was still coping pretty well--just starting to forget things. In the spring of the following year, everything changed.
The stroke kicked the Alzheimers into high gear. Mom not only lost the use of an entire side of her body, she also lost a great portion of her brain power. We provided home health for her for as long as we could. Eventually, however, it became more than we could handle. My sister Carolyn and I (the only two daughters who lived close) also worked full time jobs and were raising families of our own. It was a hard time for us. And an extremely hard decision to make, but eventually Mom entered a nursing home.
That's when my dad's heroic nature came to light for me. A lot of elderly people are put into those facilities and simply forgotten about. Not so with Mom. My dad was there every day. And I'm not talking about just a visit either. Carol or I would take him in the morning before work and he would sit with her all day. It was the only way he felt comfortable with. He just didn't want to be apart from her. I would usually check in on them at lunchtime and then both me and Carol would show up after work. One would take him home and the other of us would stay until Mom went to bed for the night. It was the only way we could get Father to go home to rest. Needless to say my mom was never forgotten.
Did my father ever miss a day? Yes. He missed two. He was in the hospital with pneumonia at the time.
Dad lived another three years after Mom passed on. All of them at home. He passed away in 2002, the day before his youngest grandchild graduated high school. Morris Hamblin, the unsung hero had passed on to his next grand adventure.
We miss you, Dad.
Was My Dad a Hero
Do You Think My Dad Was a Hero?
The only thing I truly regret is not writing down the stories that Dad told me. Sure, some of them I know by heart. But others, the ones he didn't tell so often are lost forever. And what about all those stories I never heard because I didn't know the right questions to ask? A wealth of stories, information, and knowledge gone for good.
I wish I'd had this journal. In fact, I plan to get it and fill it out myself. Kind of a "my life up to now" kind of thing. Maybe I'll give it to my son for a Christmas present. Or maybe, I'll leave it for him to find when I pass on to the next adventure.
My father's stories are priceless to me. If I had owned this journal then, I might have known the right questions to ask to gain even more stories. And by writing them down, they would have been remembered. Even by his great-
This journal features almost 500 questions... that means almost 500 stories to pass along to future generations. And you know, now that I'm thinking about it, this book would make a great mother or father's day gift. A gift to show them that you are interested in their lives and want to know more. A gift that you will be happy to have re-gifted back to you. Completed with the story of your parent's lives.
Don't make the same mistake I did. Write down their stories. Now.