Remembering and Documenting

Memorial Day is a time for remembrance and gratitude. My grandfather, of whom I affectionately called “Papaw”, fought in the Pacific during World War II. He was a gunner on a battleship in the battle of Okinawa and also performed attack runs in a rocketboat. It is hard to imagine the things he did and saw. I would often ask him about his experiences and the battles he was in. He really didn’t like to talk about it most of the time. I could feel the hurt and pain in his voice as he described the actions he saw and the friends he lost. I once did an official interview with him for a school project. He opened up more about his life as a serviceman than ever before or since. He would get choked up as he mentioned the names of his buddies that gave their lives fighting for freedom.  I am so glad that I had technology to record our conversation. I listened to that tape over and over again as I wrote my essay. 

That was back in high school. I have since lost the tape and the essay. It is possible that it is tucked away somewhere in a box just waiting to be unsealed,  but not likely. Precious information possibly lost forever. I wish I had cloud storage back then.

I have often searched for more details about his ship, his mates and the small skirmishes he was involved in during the war. Unfortunately documentation is difficult to find and may never be found. There are questions I still have that I never got to ask and will remain unanswered. 

My Papaw was a very organized man, very purposeful in all that he did. I think the Navy had something to do with that. He also taught Sunday school from the time he came back from war until he was unable to attend church in his late 80s. He wrote down most of his lessons on notebook paper. Documenting his study and his findings. He gave them to me before he passed. Although many of the pages are faded and the ink is difficult to read, they are some of my most cherished belongings now that he is gone.

This Memorial Day we honor those we have lost that served our great nation. Those who sacrificed so much so we could have so much. I can imagine that many who are reading this may have family members and friends who have inspired them to serve and have been an example of patriotism and strength just as my Papaw was for me. 

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend!

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