Memorial Day thoughts… after the fact.

Yesterday was Memorial Day… which I know is a time to reflect and be thankful that so many are willing to fight and risk their lives for the freedoms that I tend to take for granted.  And I do appreciate them… The nameless soldiers I’ll never know or meet… The spouses of friends who mean the world to me… the friends I know who have served or are still serving for something they believe in with all of their heart.

Mostly though, I think about my grandfather.  A man I was fortunate enough to know far longer and more personally than several of my cousins…even though some of them lived much MUCH closer…  mostly because I’m the oldest (well, my brother is older, but we don’t talk about him).  And yet… even though I look at our relationship with amazing fondness for the sheer volume of quality time I was fortunate enough to share with him, I never knew about his service in the war until he was already gone.

He never talked about the war.  Not even with my mom interestingly enough.  He never shared much about how he “Flew the Hump” which, if you don’t know was the flight path over the Himalayan Mountains from India to China to resupply the war effort during WWII… It was dangerous and in fact:

“From December 1st, 1942 to November 16th, 1945, pilots and crews delivered a total of 776,653 tons of war materials at the cost of 910 crewmen, 130 passengers, 594 planes and only 75 men rescued.  A terrible price to pay, but these pilots and crew members delivered.” – The Flying Tigers 69th DRS Association
He never talked about his heroics or the things he saw.  To me, he was the tall, handsome man who loved to tease and tickle and be silly… the man who raised 4 amazingly strong willed children who would grow to raise 12 amazing, strong and wonderful children of their own. (not that I’m not biased or anything… and ok, MOST of us are amazing and strong and wonderful…)
The smile you see in the picture above is the same one I remember from my childhood… even as he got older and Alzheimer’s stole him away from us.  A smile that exuded warmth and compassion… but you knew you better not cross it because there was a temper there too… but one thing about him, you always knew where you stood.  Always.  Also, I can’t help but think of him and smile when I enjoy a bowl of blueberries in milk… that was a favorite of his (the things we remember about people)
He was a man who served a country he believed in and defended what he felt was right.  So, nowadays, when I see people who vehemently voice their opinions on wars we continue to fight, it’s bittersweet… on one hand, it him and other countless men and women who fought so that we could maintain the right to say whatever we want, but a little bitter because I know first hand what a hero looks like… and I’m not trying to spark a political debate on whether or not war is just or fair or necessary…Let’s not go there m’kay?
A Hero is often the man or woman standing up to stronger powers to fight for those who can’t or choose not to… not just on a battlefield, but also here at home.  Those who give a voice to the voiceless… those who stand up for those who can’t.  So, Thank You to the servicemen and women who continue to believe in us enough to put your life on the line every day.  Thank you to those who have served in the past.  Thank you to the mothers who would rather keep their sons and daughters at home but hide their tears… Thank you to the spouses who support their families while their loved ones are overseas or otherwise deployed.  Thank you Grandpa for being a prince among men.
Real heroes don’t always wear capes… sometimes they wear leather bomber jackets.


  1. what a wonderful tribute to your grandfather. Keep on keeping his memory alive and share it with your children often. xo

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