Despite knowing that my grandfather fought in WWII (Silveo Colletti, Bombardier for the 408th), up until a few months ago I could not have even told you if he was stationed in Europe or the Pacific. From what many of my peers tell me (I am 28), they too know little or nothing about WWII from their grandparents, and in all too many cases, the opportunity to ask their grandfather what the war was all about is long passed. |
For me, the knowledge of my grandfather's time in WWII all changed on Christmas day when he presented me with a copy of the book that he wrote documenting those years that he spent away from home. The book spoke of how he met my grandmother (during flight school), where he lived, how he lived (in a hut like many of you), flight school, bombardier school, what he did during the war, and the music and letters that got him through. While he did speak of his missions, it was with humility and focused more on those involved, their thoughts and camaraderie than what they actually did.
This book gave me more insight into what the war was like, first person, than anything I have ever seen on the Discovery or History Channel. It showed the good times and the bad times in a less than statistical or glorified manner. More importantly than learning about the war, I learned about my grandfather. The book gave me insight into who he is as a man. The love story between he and my grandmother (which still continues to this day) as well as a depth of information into my family and how they supported and felt for one another. Moreover, I too am a parent, blessed with a boy and a girl. While I hope that my grandfather is around for years to come, I know the day will come that he passes. I also know that the day will come when my children ask me about their great-grandfather and/or about some war that occurred seemingly eons ago as opposed to just a few generations. I will forever have his written word to give to them, a gift from my grandfather, a gift that will let generations to come know, first hand, who he was and the man he became.
While you may not be one for writing, talk to your grandchildren about the war, let them know your part in keeping the world safe. Share with them and let them get to know you as a whole person, not just a grandpa. I have always loved my grandfather, and I will be forever grateful that he let me know him as a person and shared this part of his life with me.
Thank you, all of you, for everything you did for our country. God bless each and everyone of you that has defended our nation.
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