I just posted this picture of my dad on Facebook…a picture of him in his uniform for the army, when he served in N Africa et al during WWII. I always think of him on Memorial Day because the war had an interesting effect on him. That poor boy from WNC saw a lot of the world and he had some amazing adventures…and he lived to tell about it. He always seemed proud of his time in the army and he told us lots of stories about Europe. I think it may have kindled my life-long love of travel, now that I think of it.
And I also think of my maternal grandfather who was in the Navy in the First World War. He died of tb during the Depression and I’ve never seen a picture of him. But I have seen a picture of my grandmother in his sailor suit, saluting.
And I also think about my step-grandfather who was gassed in France in the War to End All Wars. He must’ve had stories, but he never told them. He didn’t talk about his experience and would change the subject if asked. He was a slight man, a dapper dresser who had weak lungs for the rest of his life.
And I think about my father-in-law, who lied about his age and spent the war in England. It always seems fitting that my English-American father spent the war in Italy and my Italian-American father-in-law spent the war in England.
I think about their memories–the ones shared, the ones hidden, the ones suppressed. I think about farm boys who became soldiers and sailors, and how their lives–even if they lived through the conflict–were irreparably changed by “serving their country”.
That is a high price for service, but one they were willing to pay.