Minnesota's Greatest Generation

Arthur Robert Pederson: What I Learned

Arthur Robert Pederson, a native of Glenwood, Minnesota, joined the Army in August 1943 and was assigned to the infantry. He shipped out for Europe the following March and saw combat in Italy, where he suffered a shrapnel wound and, later, injuries sustained in a troop truck accident. He was returned to his unit after Germany surrendered, and was sent back to the United States in December 1945. In his wartime memoir, Mr. Pederson recorded the valuable lessons he learned while serving his country.

I truly believe what any adversity can teach us something and can make us a better person.

First: There was a saying in the combat infantry that there are no atheists in foxholes. I believe that as my faith was strengthened and extended. I do believe in miracles because I experienced them. I only hope that my family and friends can see that in me.

Second: I learned that one should have concern for the welfare of your fellow beings. Men lost their lives doing something for their efforts, buddies and country. When I call any of my four grandsons "buddy" that really says I will do anything for them.

Third: I learned the value of loyalty, to be loyal to your church, country, family and friends. Loyalty means support to whatever happens. If correction is needed, state it, but show support. Vietnam is an example of some not being loyal to their country. This is a disappearing aspect of our society.

Fourth: I learned that honesty and hard work does pay off. My parents and grandparents taught me this but my experiences in the army solidified it. There is no substitute for hard honest work.

Fifth: I learned to be grateful. One Christmas when I was in Italy I recevied a necktie from a neighbor back home. They meant well. I gave it to an Italian man whose home provided two of us soldiers Christmas Eve shelter and warmth. He cried when I gave him the necktie. I'm grateful to my government for the G.I. Bill. My education was provided. I'm grateful for the support of family, friends and even friends of relatives who prayed and supported me.

Sixth: I learned that you create your opportunities. Most people advance because they produce. My dad once told me that to do something for nothing would pay off. He was right. I didn't always receive monetary rewards but I did receive esthetic rewards.

Seventh: The real thing you can do is to help someone. Monetary results are okay but the real satisfaction in life is if you do something to help others. An infantryman helping a buddy in need brought great satisfaction. you knew you did some good. This also applies to helping others today.

Eighth: I learned to treasure what you have and those whom are close to you. I left home with a loving, caring Grandma and Grandpa. They were both gone when I returned. I really think I am here today because of them. My only regret is that I never got a chance to show my appreciation and love to them. They took in a two-year-old grandson, taught him, loved him, provided for him and gave up their final years of rest and relaxation (retirement). I am one grandfather that owes much to his grandsons. Dad, Mother and the Olsons were my support system when I returned from the service.

There are reasons why it took so long for the experiences of veterans to be told. At first you didn't want to talk about them. There were unpleasant and violent memories. Another reason was you didn't want to brag about your experiences. [Tom] Brokaw's book [The Greatest Generation] had a comment that is relevant: "A man who bragged about what he did in the war never saw anything or was never in the war."

Remembering is important. I like Phil T. Pritzkan's quote: "It is indeed rewarding and a gift towards one's well being to have the opportunity to re-gather thoughts and sentiments. To remember I believe is to enrich life, to enable one's existence. To remember is to examine and sustain faith in life."


Pederson, Arthur Robert Share Your Story: Arthur Robert Pederson: Called to Duty. Minnesota Historical Society: Minnesota's Greatest Generation Project, 2008.