Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembering ... On Veteran's Day

For the first five years of my life, I had a very special hero in my world - my grandfather, Harold Christian.

What made him a hero to me in those early days was the special, unhurried time he spent with me. One year while I was attending pre-school, he picked me up regularly at lunchtime and we spent the afternoons together. To this day, whenever I taste or smell Campbell's Chicken Noodle soup I think of him. It was a staple of our lunches together, something we both enjoyed. After lunch came naptime, but somewhere in between I have memories of my then-favorite pastime: trying unsuccessfully with a washcloth, soap and water to scrub the army green tattoo off his forearm. (I honestly believed that if I worked at it hard enough, I could get it off!)

At the time, I had no idea what the tattoo represented. Later I learned that it was one of the few marks of war that he could not hide, as he did all the rest of his memories of his time of service overseas. He fought bravely in a tank in World War II, eventually suffering serious injuries that sent him home with a Purple Heart. The yellowed telegram informing my grandmother of this fact, along with my grandfather's dogtags and faded photographs and letters he brought home with him from war, are my treasured possessions.

My grandfather died unexpectedly during our family's first term on the mission field. Somehow he had sensed that when he said his goodbyes to his only son, daughter-in-law and three granddaughters as we left for Chile, it would be the last time. Still it came as a shock to return to familiar surroundings, the house that he and my grandmother bought after the war and where she would live for over forty years, and find him gone. I miss him to this day, and I cherish the times when my grandmom speaks of their love story and history together. She never remarried; he was her one and only. She is one of my heroes as well.

Now as an adult and having access to so many great memoirs of World War II, I find myself trying to picture what it must have been like for my grandfather fighting on foreign soil so far from home. I wonder if he had lived longer, if he would have eventually shared his own memories with us. But even without those details, I know enough to proudly say that like so many men of his generation he was an American hero.

And today seemed like the perfect day to do so.


Terri Fisher said...

Very eloquently said, Steph!

Lomdím said...

Grandpa will always be my hero. I especially love hearing the story of God's work in changing his life. I am so proud of him and Grandmom!!

Lomdím said...

Grandpop will always be my hero, as well. I especially love hearing the story of how God transformed his life. I am so proud of him and Grandmom!!!