Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day Hero

On Memorial Day I always remember my Granpa' Joe.
He passed away a few years ago. He was 85. On his last day alive, he sat up in bed, looked at his wife, said "oh, Elizibeth" (that was his pet nane for my grandma' who's name was really Francis) then said "oh shit!" and fell over and died.
 In his last years, his mind got a little feeble.
But, the good part of that is that, all the time I've known my grandfather, he never talked about WWII.... ever.
But in his last years, this is all he talked about. He even got out his old medals that had been socked away for so many years. One of his fellow soldiers had actually written a book about his experiences in the war and my grandfather was mentioned in it.
See, my grandfather, a life long Democrat, and devout Catholic, was a conscientious objector. But in WWII, that did not mean that he didn't serve. He insisted that he could not in good conscience raise arms against another human being. He refused to carry a weapon. So they made him a Medic.
If any of you have seen that movie "Saving Private Ryan", my grandpa' was that young medic in the field at the beginning of he movie trying to piece together fallen soldiers.
He had no medical experience and had to go by his wits. he told me about all the surgeries he had to do in the field, and even some dental work he had to just figure out from a book they gave him.

When I saw that movie, I cried. Thinking about my grandpa' dodging bullets and trying to save men in the field.
I started to realize why he didn't ever want to talk about it. War is a special kind of Hell.
Not every man is the hero that falls on a grenade, or kills lots of enemy soldiers, or shoots down enemy planes. Some men, were just running around scared out of their wits, trying to save the lives of the men they served with.
My grandpa' will always be my special war hero. Who never fired a shot, never took a hill, never shot down a plane and never dropped a bomb. But because of him, more men came home, more men lived, and more men survived the Hell of war.
God bless our men and women in service to our country.


  1. My grandpa would rarely talk about it with me. He felt it was a topic not fit for female ears. It wasn't until i was in college, studying for my history degree that he would tell me stories--but they were always fun, or remarking on the officer/noncom relationship (my grandfather was a master sergeant) he never told me the ugly stuff, and he was at Saipan and a few other island battles.

    and while the historian in me would have loved first hand accounts of battle feelings, etc, i smile when i remember him telling me about how it was HIS job to clear out the whorehouse before the MPs showed up. and how he would freak out his friends by pretending to be crazy when setting explosives (he was a demolition man) i'm smiling right now.

    also: the story of the day yer grandpa died? PERFECT.

  2. I love this story. I felt the prick of tears in my eyes even though I never knew him. My whole family is made up of military people. It's about serving your country without losing yourself. Your grandpa did that successfully. How many people can say the same?


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