November 11, 2008
Filed Under (Family) by svana

My Grandfather, much like many other grandfathers died while serving his country. I did not have the opportunity to know this man as he died well before I was born. I have a handful of letters and precious few photographs, all are treasured as it gives me insight as to who my Grandfather was.

Today is Remembrance Day. In my humble opinion we should be thankful for all that our soldiers do….yesterday and today.

I attended my Daughter’s Remembrance Day assembly at her school. I can honestly say that I have never been more disheartened than I was today. It was a shambles…and more to the point…it missed the point. Children speed reading Flanders Field and awful video montages coupled with equally awful music. We listened to Elmer Fudd recite a poem and winced as an Air Cadet (bless him for trying) massacred Reveille. It was painfully apparent that there was no sense of loss or soul in today’s assembly.

The only reason I stayed was to hear my child sing in the choir, as I know it would have broken her heart had we not been there.

As I left the gym, I looked at our school principal as if to say, “Why did you even bother?” There was no heart and it left me angry at the haphazard, last minute attempt to rise to the occasion. It fell flat…as flat as the version of Reveille we endured.

My husband, who often accuses me of being too blunt, suggested that the kids watch the first 10 minutes of Saving Private Ryan to truly understand, at least visually, what our soldiers of that time went through, what they endured…how they died. Since the lives and deaths of our soldiers is too distant to our children’s comfortable and secure lives…I’m inclined to agree with him. Make ready the barf bags! I know I had a difficult time making it through the first 10 minutes of that movie. The raw, graphic and horrifying re-enactment of the landing at Normandy shook me to my core. Much in the same way reading my Grandfather’s flight log book still rattles me. Notes on what he did, how many casualties they transported…and how abruptly the entries stopped.

The last signature entry was on September 19, 1944. That would be because my Grandfather and his crew were shot down on September 21, 1944. For many long years…decades even, no one knew where his remains and that of his crew members were. His grave marker read, “Known only unto God”. Fortunately, there are some very tenacious folks out there, and my Grandfather was found, laid to rest and I now have a place to pay my respects, as does the rest of my family.

I will continue miss the man I never knew, hold the soldiers that I will never know close to my heart in gratitude and hope that they will come home to us whole…rather than in pieces, or in a flag covered box, or worse yet….Known only unto God.

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