Beloit, Ohio is so small a good right fielder probably could throw a baseball through the village from end to end.
Seventy-five years ago, a farm boy from Beloit became one of more than 20,000 Americans who died fighting what would come to be known as the Battle of the Bulge, which began Dec. 16, 1944.
Thousands met their end in the unforgiving cold and snow, which served as a second enemy.
Roger W. Taylor died Jan. 6, 1945, after being struck in the chest by German shrapnel. He rests, along with 5,000 of his brothers, in Luxembourg American Cemetery.
His dog tag, recently recovered in Belgium, serves as a last will and testament to the price paid to preserve this country.
In his eloquent feature, Repository reporter Ed Balint writes that Taylor left behind a mother and father and a fiancee, Virginia Israel, all of whom accompanied him to the train station in Alliance, following his last visit home.
A doomed romance, a grieving family, a diminished hometown and a future cut short was a saga repeated thousands of times across America.
Stories must be retold
But such stories must be told and retold. They cannot be left to chance and history because they serve to remind us, in very visceral ways, that freedom and justice must be defended constantly and fought for by every generation.
Between the snow, a determined Nazi army and the foreboding woods, the Allies probably shouldn’t have won the Battle of the Bulge.
But they had to.
It was the only way to blunt Adolf Hitler’s march across Western Europe.
In a summertime photo of Taylor and Israel, he looks far too young to be wearing a uniform. But that’s always the way, isn’t it? The young fight and die in conflicts begun by the old.
There was no greater case for war than the crusade to rescue the world from despotism and wholesale annihilation from the hands of a madman bent on re-creating the world in his own warped image.
So, it had to be fought. If not, it would be only a matter of time before the swastika turned up on America’s shores.
Long way from Beloit
Taylor and the millions of other young Americans sent to stop Hitler, knew this as well as anyone.
Even so, he had to be scared.
Belgium is a long way from Beloit, and the Battle of the Bulge was one of the bloodiest, most costly conflicts in American history.
The story of Roger W. Taylor is the story of us; of how, for 243 years, ordinary people have answered the call to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, even in cases when they didn’t enjoy its promise of equality for themselves.
Roger W. Taylor and millions of Americans just like him thought enough of us to ensure that, in 2019, we’d still be a country that enshrines and treasures its foundational principles and beliefs.
They rest in the hope that we, too, are willing to defend America from any and all threats, foreign and domestic.
We cannot let them down.
Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @cgoshayREP