Monday, May 31, 2010

Closer to...

This marks my second summer without my Grampa J.

A peaceful man, he was a reluctant recruit in "Mr. Roosevelt's foreign war" some 70 years ago, but he went when his country called. Unlike so many others, he came home and had a long, productive life afterward, finally passing away in 2008.

After his passing, I was on the phone with my mother, who was left with the task, as both the oldest and closest child, of cleaning out the house. "We have his old Army jacket. Do you want it?"

"I... You mean nobody else does? Yes. I'd be honored."

It hangs in my attic now. The shoulders bear the three chevrons over a "T" of a Technical Sergeant and the collar has the brass insignia of the Signal Corps. He was a cook in France during WWII, and I recall with fondness his proud stories of how he'd baked such wonderful cakes and pies for the officers that they'd pulled levers to keep him in their mess. I've thought about ordering a European - African - Middle Eastern Campaign Medal to pin on his jacket... You know, just because.

But at least Grampa J. came back.

It seems strange to me to have one day set aside to remember those who never did come back. Every day, their memories are all around me, too. Old pistols and rifles... Maybe this particular one never left the continental United States, but maybe the kid who used it to learn his unsought trade in boot camp never returned. Other pieces of memorabilia, both from our wars and foreign ones, clutter my desk, united only in the sacrifices they represent.

When you're surrounded by history every day, you tend to think more about those who made it, and especially those who didn't live to see what they'd made.

If you don't think about it on any other day, then on this one, please... remember.

17 comments:

Keads said...

Well put and thank you for that.

Brigid said...

I'm glad you have his memory, but the loss is never easy.

One of my Mom's brothers was captured by the Japense. Til his death he would not talk about it, but once pressed a small something in my hand. It was a small cross, carved out of what looks like coconut shell, and pressed into the center, highlighting the cross, a pice of metal that once was a nickel.

We've lost so many great men in those wars. I hope we never, ever, forget.

Anonymous said...

Well Tam you did it, You finally made me cry. Thank You from this retired Navy Vet.You remembered.

Em1sw (retired) W.H. Hamilton

staghounds said...

I don't comprehend how anyone could forget.

Maybe that's a cultural divide that ought to be studied.

Anonymous said...

+1 on thank you.
Fred

Lewis said...

Lest we forget.

Bram said...

There are a number of vets I know at my church. But I just found out that the grumpy old dude who sits in the next row was a Marine at the Chosin Reservoir.

He was shot full of holes by the Chinese. His buddies tied him to a tank and he managed to stay alive on the ride out of the mountains. My mind was blown.

Anonymous said...

That the artifacts are a direct conduit for you to the history they recall is evident in what you write. That what you write in turn transfers the appreciation of that history so well to those who read it is why I'm here.

"remember."

Always and forever...amen.

AT

Anonymous said...

Well said...

Gmac

Sam said...

A wonderful tribute to our fallen Tam. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Remember, indeed. I do. When I was a snotty kid of about 12, Mom took me on a bus trip to "?", where we had lunch. Sitting across from us was the largest convention of WWI veterans I had ever seen! When I realized that their hats read "WWI", I thanked them for their service. Now, all of them are gone. I'm glad I didn't mess that one up.

Ulises from CA

OldeForce said...

You do right by this day every year. Thank you.

Mark said...

I remember, and give thanks. Not just this day - I know full well I live a fat and happy life because people died to keep me safe.

Thank you for your service one, and all.

MOBro said...

Very well put. I thank them and you.

John Peddie (Toronto( said...

They were called "The Greatest Generation" for a reason. A youthful decade of numbing Depression, then off to war.

Thanks for preserving his memory.

Boat Guy said...

We have a tradition of "coming back" in my family - as I reminded younger son before his deployment. We remember often. We've been very fortunate as a family and have lost very few friends in combat, probably no more than we've lost in training for combat in the aggregate.
A talisman is important, but to have a younger generation remember - and share - is vital.

Robert said...

Not everyone was up on the front lines firing at the enemy. Someone had to cook for them and made just as much of a contribution.