I’m still trying to research this a little, and fill in the details, so there will likely be a longer, follow up story in the weeks to come, but I found some information about my family I wanted to share.
My grandfather fought in the Philippines during World War II. This is a fact that not even my father knew until a few years ago, for grandfather never, ever mentioned it. Last summer I brought it up with him wanting to get some stories out of him before he died, but all he would say is that he had seen action.
Talking with my grandmother, this past weekend she told me that when his active duty was done that he was told to stay in for two extra weeks, doing office work, and he would get a nicer benefits package. He refused outright and wanted to be shipped immediately home.
Once he returned home he boarded up his windows and nailed his door shut, afraid that the Japanese would sneak in and take him.
For a year after he returned he would often cry out to his mother that he could never go to heaven. That he was bound for hell for the things he had seen. The things he had done. For he had killed men. He had bombed buildings, murdered innocents. He had seen little children’s arms and legs flying dismembered from the explosions he had caused.
Eventually, she said, they calmed him down and made him understand he had served his country, and the Greater Good and could indeed go to Heaven. But hearing that story, broke my very heart.
Here was a young man, 17 at the time, I believe, from the hills of Tennessee. Seventh grade education, never seeing much beyond the farm he grew up on. Suddenly he is shipped to the wonders of California where he learns how to be a warrior, a soldier, and killer. Then he is shipped to some exotic island to experience what hells I’ll never understand only to again be shipped back and expected to live a normal life.
I may not agree with the politics of our current wars, but my heart goes out to all the men and woman who quite literally put their lives on the line ever single day. I pray God brings them home safe, healthy and able to adjust to normal life again.