Monday, May 27 is Memorial Day. We have a special reason to celebrate this year.
We have always known that our grandfather OJ served in Word War I, the Great War, the war to end all wars. He had been taken as a prisoner of war (POW). He died when our father was just 16 years-old, so we never knew him, but dad would occasionally reveal snippets of information: his back was covered in cootie bites from his time in the trenches; he sometimes mentioned a place called Chateau Theirry; a young German girl helped save him in the camp by giving him extra food; he never picked up a gun again after the war.
Through some research I discovered that he had enlisted in Binghamton, NY. He signed up with another young man who would later become his brother-in-law. They were two country farm hands looking to find their place in the world — a war to fight was likely a chance to change their circumstances in life since there was no family business to take over or a farm to inherit or college tuition to be had. Many years ago when I went to Paris for the first time, I tried to imagine what they experienced when they landed in France as Doughboys.
Over the years I’ve looked for OJ’s military records. However I could never verify his service because there was a fire in the National Archives in the 1970’s and it destroyed all the records from that war (and some from WWII). Or so I was told….
As a surprise gift for my father, one of his elderly cousins has been working for years with her local Senator to find information about OJ. Some government archivist would come up empty and she’d tell them to go back and look some more. This went on for years. Then unexpectedly a package arrived in the mail: it was his records, along with notes from his commanding officers about the battle where he and many others were captured, as well as information about the camp where he was interred.
I am so excited to get my hands on this information. Next week I’ll be in Ohio with Cindy. I can’t wait to dive into this treasure trove. Thanks cousin Helen!
Cindy and I hope that dad and his father both know that we are thinking about them this Memorial Day.
We honor all those who have served in the United States military and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and our freedoms.
We created this patriotic table runner as a way to express how thankful we are.
You can download this free pattern by clicking on the link below.