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.