My grandfather was one of those whiz-kid types who graduated college while still in diapers. I think he went to Harvard then Johns Hopkins for Medical School, graduating with a full MD at something absurd like age 21. He then went onto be a family doctor back in the days when being a doctor was really something special to the general public, something revered and something that I desperately wish that the medical field could get back to.

He made house calls, delivered babies in the middle of the night and ministered to the sick and dying. His name was Joseph, just like my dad and my middle son (Alex’s middle name) and he missed out on most of my dad’s childhood because he was laid up with tuberculosis in a TB sanitarium.

My grandfather, Joseph, was also a doctor in the United States Army in World War Two and among the first to liberate the concentration camps.

What he saw there, the dead bodies amongst the living, those poor souls forced to live in what must have been hell, in the sorts of conditions that I cannot even fathom as I whine about it being “too hot” outside, he never spoke of.

I don’t know that he could.

My grandfather was a hero.

To be able to touch the lives of those people, even those who didn’t make it, or those who had already passed, and to tenderly care for them, that is what a hero is.

A hero is someone who leaves their own family, the comforts of their own home, and selflessly serves their country. They take care of what needs to be done, and they do it with pride.

I’m proud, too. Of all the soldiers, of their families, and of my grandfather, who would, were he alive, be horrified by my blog.

It’s a DAMN good thing he’s not here to read it.


33 thoughts on “Memorial

  1. He sounds like a guy who knew how to live, a guy who might want to buy his granddaughter a drink so he could enjoy a bit of the freedom he helped guarantee her and his namesake.


    1. Fuck Yeah! I want Bon Jovi to write a song about how Rebecca moves me. And yes, The Bonner would be moved by this too, he speaks Becky as well.

  2. America, fuck yeah indeed! My grandfather served during the Korean war. He was an Air Force pilot. He, however, is alive, and I thank God the man refuses to use a computer so he doesn’t stumble across my blog!!

    1. Sigh, I must be old, because everyone is talking about their grandfathers. My first father also served in Korea, and like my second father, would think the Interwebs is the devil.

      (the slavery thing still makes me pause every time I play that song)

      1. Since slavery is in the part that starts with the obviously obese kid at McDonald’s I assumed there was some acknowledgement that America screws up sometimes, we just love it anyway.

        Somehow that made it much, much better for me.

  3. What a beautiful post for your grandfather. I’d like to think that he’s pumping his fist after reading this and saying “fuck yeah” America too.

  4. I love posts like these. They make me happy, not in a sadistic way, but recognizing the past for what it was. My favourite necklace happens to be a medal from WW1 that my great-grandfather won when he was about 17. I wear it to keep him and my grandfather close. (they were both in the armourd corps in the Canadian Military)

  5. What a beautiful post!!! Your grandfather truly was a hero. You have the right to be proud of him….as i am sure he IS of you.

  6. If he were alive, he would indeed be horrified by your blog. But I get a kick out of the image of him, dwelling in some celestial sphere, all conventions of societal pretense removed, laughing his ass off.

    You already know my thoughts about Our Favorite National Anthem (and thank you for posting) and my post today is about Heroes like your grandfather; eff YEAH!

  7. Thanks for the awesome post and your Grandfather’s service. So many people forget what Memorial Day is actually about. It’s not swimming, hot dogs and beer people…although that’s awesome!

  8. My dad is also a hero. He fought in Vietnam and was right there in the thick of things. It makes me so sad to think of the things he saw and things he was forced to do in the heat of battle. He was just a poor country boy who lived in the bible belt. He had never even seen a gun until the Army put one in his hands.

  9. i’m so proud of your grandpa and all of our service men and women who protect this great country of ours and the lives and freedoms of so many. fuck yeah to their strength and bravery!

  10. Isn’t it wonderful to follow someone so heroic, smart, and interesting? I know having a few ancestors with stories to brag about helps make up for all the wackos that consist of the rest of my family.

  11. Lovely tribute to your grandfather. Fuck yeah! And while we’re honoring our troops, can we also remember to include the gay service men and woman who put their lives on the line to preserve the rights and freedoms that they themselves are excluded from.

  12. How perfect for you – a lovely sentimental post followed up with America – Fuck Yeah.

    My dad served in WWII, my husband was in Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom. Thanks for honoring those who served.

  13. My great-grandfather (who is, amazingly, still living) was also one of the first to liberate the camps. The only time I’ve ever asked him about it was when I was a little, little girl, maybe 5 years old. I found out that he’d been in the war, and I asked him, “Papa, did you see the Jews?”

    His face screwed up all funny, and to this day it’s the only question I’ve ever asked him that he did not have an answer for.

    My grandfather, (gone, thanks to all that crud they spewed in the jungles of Viet Nam, which finally caught up to him and took him in 1999) he never, ever talked about his wartime duty either. The only time my grandmother ever heard him speak about it was when he was drugged up, post-surgery, the first time he fought cancer, in the early eighties. He started freaking out, screaming, “JIMMY DOESN’T HAVE A FACE!! HE DOESN’T HAVE A FACE NO MORE!”

    He’d never spoken to my grandmother about Viet Nam before, and he never did again afterward, but that night, Grandma had to walk him through the story of his entire life to bring him out of the flashback and back to the hospital.

    Here’s to your grandfather and to mine, probably hanging out in some celestial VFW.

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