Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fun Monday-Veteran's Day


Our hostess this week is the lovely janis. She wants us to wave the red, white and blue this week, and I will gladly do that. Here is the specific assignment:


Since Next Tuesday is Veterans Day, I thought it would be nice to salute our Veterans and show our appreciation. Photo requirement of something patriotic.



My salute is to my grandfather, mama's daddy. He's been dead for about twenty years now, but I always think of him on Veteran's Day because of the time he spent in World War II and how it affected him for the rest of his life. In some ways it was as if the war never really ended for him. I don't have a picture of him in his uniform, so this will have to do.

I don't know the year this was taken, but this picture is of him and grandma early in their marriage, so it had to be just prior to him going off to war. Mama was a baby during the war, so grandma was like a lot of other war brides at the time, praying for the good Lord to keep her husband safe while holding things down on the home front. It could not have been easy then, and I doubt it was easy when grandad came home and still had the war raging in his head. For the rest of his life, he lived as if he were still on the battlefield, drinking his coffee as black as tar, eating the greasiest friend eggs you've ever laid eyes on and barking out comments as if they were orders. He was an imposing figure who held court over a room. His recliner was his throne, and no one ever sat in his chair. Even after he died, that chair sat empty most of the time.


By the time I came along some twenty years after the war had ended, grandpa was retired but still telling war stories. He was a well decorated soldier with plenty of stories to share. Some soldiers hold in their war experiences and refuse to talk about them. Others talk about them a lot. Grandpa seemed to talk about them all the time. As a kid, I felt like all he did was talk about the war. I just didn't understand, and it would be years before I did. I usually half listened and went on playing with whatever toy I had at hand or wailing on my brothers. I feel so stupid now. I wish I had listened more. In fact, I wish I had recorded his stories, taken notes and preserved them for future generations. What's that saying? If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, everybody would be happy for Christmas.


There is one story of his heroics that I do remember. I'm fuzzy on the details, but apparently, during a pretty fierce battle in Germany, grandpa bravely climbed a flagpole and tore down the Nazi flag that flew above the city. He tucked it away and brought it home as a war souvenir like so many other veterans did with war relics. He was always proud of the fact that he brought down such a strong symbol of the enemy. Occasionally, he would pull out that flag and show it to us and talk about what he did. I was so young I didn't understand the Holocaust or its effects, but I knew in listening to his voice that he had done something very important and very brave.


That flag is still in our family. My uncle, a Vietnam veteran, has it now. I haven't seen it in years. That kind of relic can be misconstrued, so it has to be presented in the right context. I hope that its story, grandpa's story, is always told when that box is opened. I'm very proud now of what he did. I just regret that he died before I could tell him that I finally understood, that his words weren't in vain....nor his battle scars.

18 comments:

Amy said...

That was a beautiful tribute to your grandfather, Hula.

God Bless,
Amy:)

IamwhoIam said...

The photo you have of your Grandparents they looks so very young. My Father also was in WWII but it didn't have the same effect.

Alison said...

unfortunately we never appreciate history until we are older. I too have many regrets about listening to stories in my younger days.

beautiful tribute to your grandfather.

karisma said...

Beautiful tribute to your Grandfather!

swampy said...

Yours is the first Veteran's Day post for me...a beautiful and loving tribute to your grandfather. Thanks to him and his family...
My father-in-law, too, brought home a Nazi flag...not sure he climbed a flag pole, but nevertheless his son (my ex) still has it.

{i}Post said...

Isn't it amazing how we all have someone near and dear to us who have served in one way or another? Lovely tribute to your grandpa!

m (the misanthrope) said...

Lovely tribute, Hula. Thank you!

Kelley with Amy's Angels said...

What a great story!! I'm with Alison. We never do appreciate history until we get older. I think we're all like that....

Hootin' Anni said...

...lovely.

Makes me hum the song, and the flag still stands for freedom, and they can't take that away!!!

Your tribute was wonderful.

Mine's posted...scroll down to the last of my Monday blog. See you there.

Janis said...

Wish I would have put my Dad's picture up. That was a moving tribute to your grandfather, I know he is smiling down on you today with tears of pride!
May God Bless

Jan said...

Wonderful tribute. All soldiers are different, and react to their experiences differently. He told his stories for himself, but I'm sure he's glad you later understood. I agree war is hard to understand for children.

Faye said...

What a moving tribute to your grandpa. And from the way you described him I could imagine him scaling that flag pole and claiming the Nazi flag. He had story props for his war exploits. I also understand your regret about not listening closely enough as a child. I'm thinking about elderly family members and neighbors who were excellent story tellers. I wish I'd listened more.

ChrisB said...

That was a beautiful tribute to your grandfather. I too wish that I had recorded more of the stories told by my grandparents and sadly it is now too late. It's only as adults that we realise how much they had to endure during the wars.

GutsyWriter said...

My Father is 83 and the older I get, the more I want to interview him about his youth. So far, I've only had snippets. He lives in France, and I live in California, but we visit once a year.

KarmynR said...

I would have liked to have sat down with your grandfather too. He sounded like an amazing man. There are many WWII vets who don't like to talk about it at all - and others who will tell story after story. My FIL will talk about it if you ask, but doesn't really like to.

A wonderful tribute.

Lala said...

How fun to have a memory to share of your grandaddy. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

grace said...

That was a great post. Salute to your granddad and your grandma too!

Sayre said...

Wonderful tribute. You must have been listening at least some of the time or you wouldn't have been able to write this down so well!