Monday, May 31, 2004

I've added one more picture to my sidebar (scroll down a bit). That's my Grandfather, taken on his nineteenth birthday, in France in the year of 1919. I've written a little bit about him before (on Veterans Day) and I'm too lazy to retype it, so I'm going to paste that (lightly edited) in here again. My apologies to the folks who may have already read this.

My Grandfather was a cook during WWI. That, and the fact that he did go to France, was all I knew about his military service. My aunt recently gave me a copy of his discharge papers and I learned a bit more about him. The few times I asked him as child, he wouldn't talk much about it.

It seems he fibbed a bit to the Army when he enlisted. They have him down as being 20 years old when he enlisted. He was actually 17. I had always thought he’d been drafted in 1918, but he enlisted in September of 1917. I’ve since found out why.

My Great-Grandfather
(top of the sidebar) was married three times and he had three sets of children. His first two wives died, probably in childbirth. My Grandfather didn’t get along with the third wife, so he enlisted to get away from her and probably to get away from the farm too. He was afraid to tell his daddy what he’d done; he went to his Aunt and told her so he could see which way the wind was blowing before he went home to tell his father.

According to his discharge papers, he was with Company H of the 60th Infantry Regiment. He did not see any combat and did not receive any wounds in service.

He was very fortunate.

He may not have seen combat, but I am sure he saw sights that few people today could relate to, or want to relate to. I think he knew, better than I ever will, how fortunate he was.

I wonder, every year, where he was and what he was doing when they got the word it was over.

I cannot image what it would be like to be a Frenchman or a German who survived Verdun, or an Englishman kicking soccer balls as they went over the top at the Somme.

The Grumbling Bear once told me that I was obsessed with the past and therefore living in the past (or something like that anyway). I don't really think so, I just love history and I enjoy discovering the tiny little parts my family has played over the years.