My grandfather was a soldier. He fought in WWII. He was also an airplane mechanic and kept the planes running for others to go out and face the enemy. He didn’t like to talk about it though.
My grandfather did not die in battle but there were many who did. Somehow he made it through, along with his best friend Jake, who went on to marry my grandfather’s sister. I did not know them when they were young, but I have seen the pictures of them posing in front of planes, usually with a pretty girl or two.
My memories of Uncle Jake are mostly the scent of his and Nana’s house. It was a comforting smell and Nana always had candy on the coffee table and hugs ready when we stepped through the door. Uncle Jake was a teasing voice dressed in blue coveralls, seated in a recliner.
My grandfather was, to me, a quiet serious man. (Boy was I mistaken about that one, but hey I was a kid at the time and he was really tall.) He always worn dark work pants and white t-shirts. When I was a kid, I never saw my Uncle Jake or my grandfather in anything else than those work pants,t-shirts, and blue coveralls. It was like they got used to uniforms and kept it up when they returned to civilian life. My grandfather also made the best barbecue chicken in the entire world.
Uncle Jake passed away from some sort of cancer. My grandfather died in a V.A. hospital after I was out of high school. WWII did not take their lives but they carried the things they saw with them when they finally returned home. However, even with those shadows, they built lives and families and a legacy of love that was passed down all the way to me.
They were soldiers.
Happy Memorial Day.