My grandfather on my mother’s side served heroically during World War 1 and World War 2. He was a captain in the French Army, he lost his regiment in the trenches due to mustard gas bombing, he was the only survivor. During World War 2, he was a colonel, he eventually got captured and was a prisoner of war held by the Germans. He didn’t die during the wars but he fought long and hard under horrible conditions. I remember my grandfather as a strong, quiet, sweet old man. My mother was the second to last baby and she was born during World War 2 when he came back home for a visit, (I guess) he was captured before my mother was born and he was released under an officer exchange after she was born. I was too young to really understand war and what it does to a person, so I never asked him anything of his experiences. From what I’ve gathered from my aunts, uncle and cousins, he never spoke about any of his war experiences. He was wonderful and so big in my little girl eyes. I was extremely proud of him.
So I often remember my grandfather for all sorts of reasons, regardless of Memorial Day. It is an important day for remembrance of all those who served and died defending us and the ideals we share in the world. But for me it is a bit impersonal because I don’t know anyone close to me who died in a war. However, even though I don’t have a personal connection, I still feel the weight of the day, all those fallen, because of the horror of war.