What does Memorial Day mean to you? For some people it means watching a 5 minute parade, for others it means spending time with your loved ones, cooking out and enjoying a nice spring day together.
When I think of Memorial Day, my grandfather and his generation pop into my mind. WWII was an intense period in our country’s history. We pulled together, made sacrifices, and accomplished great things in the face of a real and perilous tyranny spreading across Europe and onto our own doorstep.
Grandpa left a successful trucking business he owned, sold everything, and ended up as a tank refueler and POW guard in General Patton’s Army. He traveled to Northern Africa, Sicily, France, and Germany, eventually ending up in Berlin.
Once the war was over he stayed on in Germany with the Army for at least another year while they helped get the country and its people back on their feet.
Here was a man who drove fuel trucks into battle to refuel tanks while Nazi airplanes shot at him and dropped bombs on him, and when it was all over he went back home, put away his uniform, and became a farmer.
He died when I was 8 years old, and I never really got to know him as well as I wish I had. What are left of him are the pictures, the souvenirs, the medals, and the stories.