There were 16,112,566 members of the United States Armed Forces during World War II. It is estimated that 389,292 American veterans from the war were still alive in 2019. On November 8, my beloved father-in-law, Louis Goldstein, passed away, making only 389,291 vets still alive. He was buried with full US Navy honors at the Mount Hebron Cemetery in Queens.
He was stationed in the Pacific on a submarine chaser, on a boat not too different from the PT-109 made famous by President John F. Kennedy. My father-in-law’s brother nearly drowned after his PT boat was blown up by the Japanese. Both my father-in-law and his brother survived the war. My father-in-law was honored by the National Council of Young Israel on March 31, 2019, along with three other American Jewish veterans of World War II. The dinner was dedicated to American Jewish veterans 80 years after World War II began. My father-in-law cherished the moment. It meant a great deal to him. Jewish war veterans are not given enough credit for their service. It was not coincidental that he passed away on Veteran’s Day weekend.
He was the youngest of ten children born on the Lower East Side in 1922. He lost his mother when he was eight years old. She died in an emergency room waiting to be seen. She had an asthma attack. He lived through the Depression and often went to sleep hungry. Food was scarce. He never lost his smile or sense of humor. Despite his childhood hardships, he loved everybody and everybody loved him. He kept everyone upbeat and happy. He will be sorely missed. The family should be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Joseph M. Frager is a physician and lifelong activist.