Last Christmas, my grandmother gave her children and the oldest grandchild in each family a book she had written about her life. It was filled with pictures from the past, short stories, memories, and different fragments of her life experiences. When I had a chance to open my sister’s copy, I just happened to come across the page where she shared a brief glimpse of what she felt when her young husband became missing in action. While I don’t have the exact passage on hand, one phrase burned into my soul. She wrote that while he wasn’t pronounced dead, she knew in her heart that he was. She explained that “all color seemed to fade from the world.” When I read those words, I felt as if for a moment, I was her, and I saw the bright colors of joy wash away replaced but a dull and colorless reality. As I continued to read, I couldn’t help but cry as I clung to her words and relived her emotions. My grandfather was just 33 years old. My grandmother was left alone, a single mother, with 4 small children.
Now 81 years old, my grandmother is living a life full of joy, family, and prosperity. She still loves Gene, and is grateful to know that she will see him again and be reunited with him. She continues to honor his role in helping to preserve our freedom. She will always be a supreme example of what it means to be a patriot. And while she has shared how she grieved his loss, I have never heard her complain about the price her family paid. Neither have I ever heard my mother complain, she was 4 years old when she lost her father. Both of these women have taught me, by their actions and their words, to appreciate the country I live in. To respect those who serve it. And to stand up for what is right. I only hope I can teach my children half as well as they taught me.
Happy Veterans Day.