Wanted to take a moment to remember our fallen heroes today. My grandfather served on the beaches of Normandy as a medic. We were very close.
A few years ago the Montgomery County (Dayton, Ohio) Commissioners arranged a ceremony to award the heroes of Normandy with the Jubilee of Liberty Medal. This medal honors those soldiers who participated in the invasion of Normandy beach at any time between D-day, June 6, 1944 and August 31, 1944. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, watching Grandpa, in a wheelchair, being saluted by a four-star general onstage, as he received his medal.
Grandpa was a very quiet man -- a butcher by trade (ironic that he'd been a medic)! Grandma spoke enough for both. He taught me to paint pictures, and both he, Grandma, and Great-Grandma taught me to can pickles, relish, and applesauce. Times seemed so simple when I was young -- my life solely revolved around picking enough apples off the grafted 5-apple tree to make enough pink applesauce to last year round. (The pink was from red hot candies Grandma added for me.)
But now I realize I will never be able to fathom how difficult life was for this somber, private man. Before he died, he finally spoke to me of Normandy. About the troops all around him drowning, and he without ability to save them. About the beach running red with blood, but not nearly enough medics to help everyone. What a terrible sight. What a searing memory that must have been for all his life.
I was his companion for the last three years of his life. I am so grateful and honored that I was able to make his last years a little less difficult. He made my early years so happy.
A soldier. A butcher. An artist. A canner. My hero...