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Memorial Weekend

 

By Cyn C. (Cyn-Sama)

My Grandfather was a proud and stubborn Welshman.  He immigrated to this country in 1926 from Burryport, in Glamorgan.  His parents hoped to find a better life in the U.S.A.
My grandfather had just turned 18 after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He quickly went and signed up to be part of the Marines.
18 years old.  Just out of High School, and put into the thick of fighting in the Pacific.  He survived the Battle of Tinian, Peleliu, and Iwo Jima.
After the war, he took his honorary discharge and went home to New York, where the family had eventually settled.  His mother would often comment about the nightmares that would keep her son up all night.  Screaming to see if the rest of his platoon was safe.

Eventually, he met my grandmother, and settled down to raise a family (and some adorably stupid boxers and labs).
He never talked about the war, though he was very proud of his service and his country.  He told my father a few things, but my father passed away before he passed them down to us.

One day, while we were searching through boxes of old photos, we found some pictures that my grandfather had taken during the war.  There were some great shots of him and his Marine buddies palling around, but what shocked us were the pictures of dead Japanese soldiers that he had taken.
I can’t imagine what he went through in the battles, and I don’t think I even want to.
It was just very hard to picture my loving grandfather, who was always ready with a song (and completely off key at that) and a joke, and a hug for his grandchildren, taking pictures of dead bodies.

Now, that I’m a bit older, I can understand the mentality that the Marines drilled into my grandfather.  It was kill or be killed, and you had to depersonalize the enemy.

I think of my grandfather often, but never so much as on Memorial day, when I go to visit his grave, and see the jaunty American flag that veterans group place on the grave every year.
My grandfather fought so his grandchildren would not have to know the horrors that he did.  And, for that, and so many more things, I am forever grateful.

I love you, Boppa.  Thank you for your service.

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5 Responses to “Memorial Weekend”

  1. Lori S. (GroovyGlitterGirl) says:

    Thanks so much for the wonderful story about your grandfather. It is a great reminder of all of those who served this country so that we may be free! Happy Memorial Day and salute your grandfather for me when you visit his grave this weekend!!

  2. Sharona F. says:

    Cyn- What a lovely tribute to your grandfather, my Uncle John!! Thank you for posting and sharing this with all of us!!!

  3. Jane Morris Coons says:

    Very nice story about my father. I have always been proud to identify myself as the daughter of a Marine Corps veteran of Iwo Jima. When I traveled to Washington DC and saw the Marine Corps statue of the flag raising on Iwo Jima I just cried and cried. God bless all veterans as we remember them on Memorial Day

  4. Cozette M. (CozSnShine) , says:

    Wonderful story and writing. Thank you for sharing your grandfather with us. Back in the “olden days”, men didn’t talk much about their terrible war experiences. A lot of family history fell by the wayside because of this. I’m glad you found the pictures and got a glimpse into the life of your soldier grandfather. Thankyou

  5. Gwyneth K. (chenoweth) , says:

    Glad to hear the proud story of your grandfather. My father was 33 when the attack came on Pearl Harbor.
    He too went down to sign up, even though he was old enough not to have to, but he was a proud American. He went to the European Theater as an airplane mechanic and met my mother in England (she was in the British Army) and the rest is history. They are both dead now but they served their countries proudly and I remember their service with joy and pride this Memorial Day.

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