Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day


My lovely grandparents, Virginia Louise Freet Bair and Charles G. Bair on their engagement day. Salem, Ohio.

Going through the daily motions on this rainy day, it seems fitting to remember the past. Mostly today I am thinking about Veteran's Day. I wrote the following last year, and it still is one of my favorite posts. So, here it is again...

On a grander and more important scale, I am remembering all the Vets out there, living and dead, who have done so much to protect our country. My grandfather on my mother's side was a WWII vet, stationed in the extreme remote wilderness of Attu, Alaska for several years. Some of the worst bloodshed of WWII was fought on Attu. My mom was a tiny baby when he left, a three year old when he returned. I can't imagine not seeing my family for such a long time. I can't imagine his loneliness, living in a tiny quonset hut in the freezing cold, or my grandmother struggling to support a household that included my mother, my great grandparents, and my great aunt, who was a high school student at the time, all on a bank teller's salary. This is how people looked out for one another back then. But she never complained, either at the time or years later, an admirable quality I wish I possessed.

While the war raged on, my grandparents kept up a correspondence, writing each other every day the personal and plain events of their lives, documenting my mom's development from an infant into a toddler and all the events that my grandfather was missing back home in Ohio. The letters are voluminous and detailed and they were saved by my grandmother for more than forty years after my grandfather's untimely departure from this life at the age of 51. I never had the pleasure of knowing him, a gentle and kind man, and my mom was deprived of her beloved father and my grandmother her beloved husband for the majority of their lives. After my grandmother's death in 2000, my mom discovered these letters kept in a large wooden box, preserved in order, along with tiny Eskimo dolls, postcards and the long awaited cable from my grandfather, telling his wife that he was finally coming home...

Happy Veteran's Day, everyone. Thank you for your service.

3 comments:

Karen said...

beautiful story, lost to the ages until you write it down for all of us to enjoy and be in awe over. Gratitude to your fine grandparents.

lukesidewalker said...

That story and the letters are a true family treasure. Thanks for sharing.

-Luke Sidewalker

Christine Damm said...

What a wonderful, personal and inspiring story-- it's stories like this that teach us and help us remember the sacrifices that were made to keep us free, both by the veterans as well as their families. I feel priviledged that you shared this with us. Thank you!