Karen Roseman recalls that her father was a "very happy man, especially in the later years." But there was a time, she said, when Harry Roseman, who died in 2010, would wake up at night, yelling and crying.
She could only assume the nightmares plaguing the Army veteran's days as a prisoner of war held by the Germans in World War II. On Thursday, Roseman was able to add the POW medal to a shelf of memorabilia in the Melville Avenue condo she shares with her sister, Jane. Delivered by U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, it will find a place next to the Purple Heart medal, the flag from her father's casket, the casings from the 21-gun salute at his funeral, and the black-and-white photo of a young Harry Roseman in his Army uniform.
"He really didn't talk about anything in Germany," Roseman said. She recalled, though, that he hid his dogtags that bore the letter "H" and carried a Rosary as a decoy to prevent the enemy from learning he was Jewish. "I talked with him about it, he said what he wanted to say, and I just dropped the subject," she said. "He made that decision that he didn't want to pursue the bad stuff."
She does know that her father, a radioman, was captured a few days after the Battle of the Bulge in 1944, and was held at Stalag 4B until the war ended. Roseman said he did tell of the line of Allied soldiers, stretched out thinly near St.-Vith, trying to stem the German advance. "I know that must have concerned him," she said, adding her father said the soldiers had initially been told they would just "hanging out" there for a little while, and not to worry.
"I'm just really proud of him," Roseman said, the emotion creeping into her voice during her talk with Himes. "It's so heartwarming and I'm so happy. This just brought up a whole new journey for my dad and us."
Roseman said her father was a "little lost" for a while after the war ended. Before joining the service, he was attending college, and wanted to become a doctor. Upon his return, she said, he went to work in the family's rubber manufacturing business in New York.
For Himes, being able to deliver the medals "is absolutely one of my most favorite things to do." He said there are a surprising number of World War II veterans who did not receive the medals to which they are entitled. "My guess is that's because the demobilization happened so fast," Himes said, "a lot of World War II veterans didn't even know about the medals."
That was the case with Harry Roseman's family, his daughter said. They first learned through a friend, whose father was also imprisoned at Stalag 4B, that a POW medal existed, Roseman said.
"Most of them are pretty quiet about their service," Himes said of the wartime veterans. "That's the same with young men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. They just want to put it behind them."
It's important, however, he said, to make records of the veterans' stories as is being done through the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.
Because, more often these days, Himes said, he's delivering medals to surviving family members of World War II veterans and not the servicemen and womens themselves. "I've seen a statistic that said in a year or two from now, we're not going to have a lot of that generation left," he said.
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