Do you know how amazing it is that I even exist?
My mother's father was on the shores of Normandy that June day in 1944. They called him "The Old Guy" because he was 31 years old. We called him Grandpa Vic, but his given name was Joseph Victor Aloysius Bell, and he lived through that first wave of soldiers who hit the northern coast of France on D-day. He was a radio guy, a Tech5 which is a corporal I think, and he apparently connected calls to General George S. Patton many times.
My mom says he didn't tell many of the bad stories about war, only the interesting ones (watching three beautiful girls walk arm in arm on the streets of Paris, each with a different shade of hair: two of which were blue and red). He shared with my mom only one story that was not all rosy: Their unit had been bombed heavily, and one (very) young man was shell-shocked, crying, screaming- hysterical. Apparently my Grandfather slapped the young man across the face then rocked the lad in his arms like a baby until he finally calmed down much later.
Most of my memories of Grandpa Vic need prompting; he died when I was in third grade. I do however remember the smell of his pipe, and the neat little cabinet he had to put his pipe and tobacco in. I remember his sparkly eyes and handsome smile. My brother has inherited his beautiful wavy hair that looks combed all the time, and a body that always looks strong.
I may not remember that much, but I do remember he loved my mom. He loved her so much that I can recall the way he looked at her and spoke to her. I know that feeling now that I have my own children: he loved her like he was amazed she existed, every time he looked at her.
I honor him today, and my great grandfather Jack who served in WWI, although I suppose I should remember them officially on Memorial day since they have long passed from this life. My "Unka Dunka" who served in Desert Storm and whose body has never quite recovered from his injuries there, still soldiers on, soldiering from such a young age. He's retired now, but still wears that same haircut I'm sure.
Thank you Veterans. Thank you.