So my great uncle was, I think, 19 (let’s say 19) and stationed in England as a private in the US Army on the eve of the Normandy invasion. And he was scared out of his wits. So much so, he placed a call to his oldest brother, my grandfather, and confessed he was thinking of going AWOL.
Well, as he must’ve known, my grandfather did everything he could to talk him out of it. He must’ve pointed out the practical problems it would create. He must’ve pointed out how, if he flinched now, he would be haunted by it for the rest of his life.
Whatever he said, it worked. My great Uncle John returned to his unit and prepared to go to war. My grandfather wrote him an encouraging letter (which we still have) and promised he’d be home soon. But what my grandfather didn’t know is that my uncle was already dead, killed by a German shell in Normandy.
Two months later, my father was born, and my grandfather gave him his late little brother’s name. It’s now also the name I have. I can’t imagine the guilt my grandfather must have felt, nor the courage my uncle must’ve had to face his fears and go headlong into danger and death anyway.
I post a lot about politics, perhaps too much, but if there’s ANYTHING that everyone in America can still agree on, it’s that such sacrifice is worthy of remembering, and worthy of honoring.