Thank you for this touching story. I come by your blog every now and then and find it excellent reading. Please keep up the good work.
I came by my name, Gerard, through my mother, an Italian immigrant to the U.S. at a very young age in the 1920's. I was her only birth child and because she was 40 years old and having difficulty with the pregnancy, she struck a bargain with Saint Gerard Majella, the patron saint of expecting mothers. Hence my name.
My father left the family when I was young and he was never much of a presence in my life. I have learned to forgive him for that and he is now gone from this earth (my mother is 85). But only in the last few years have I taken an interest in his military service in WWII. He enlisted in Flint, Michigan and served in the 69th Signal Batallion of the XX Corps in Patton's Third Army. I still have the famous "Good Weather Prayer" and Christmas greeting card issued to all the soldiers from Patton during the Battle of the Bulge. My mother's brother parachuted into Normandy with the 101st Airborne and was awarded the Purple Heart only five years ago. He fought in the hedgerows for days with a piece of a German grenade stuck in his leg.
At some point in our lives when we face struggle, real or imagined, we need stories like this to draw on to show how men can face down the most hideous evils and defeat them. Our hip and trendy culture devalues this, but I know you do not. Thank you.
Gerard, once again I am reading this with tearfilled eyes, giving thanks for such men as your uncle. I saved this essay to share with my children and am pleased to see your uncle's photo to add another dimension. My grandson recently joined the air force, so this is especially touching at this time.
I marvel at your talent. Do you have any plans to publish a volume of your essays? Thank you for sharing your feeling so beautifully.
Mr Van der Leun
There is a very poignant scene in "The Alamo", which, all in all, was not a very good movie. But nonetheless, the night before their final day, the defenders of the Alamo mission were sitting around the campfire, discussing their own dreams, thoughts and ideals. One of the men asks Davy Crocket (John Wayne) what he's thinking about. "Not thinking of anything, just remembering."
Your uncle, my father, many of his friends and men of his generation that I grew up around and that fought that awful, cruel, bloody war are gone, yet, it is up to we the living,... to remember.
...Lest we forget.
What frightens is how easily the momentous sacrifices are all forgotten!
"The Name in the Stone" was the posting that caused me to bookmark your blog, and I've been visiting regularly ever since.