The end of my first week at my new job, and though it has eaten into my writing and reading time a bit I think I’ll be able to strike a good balance. But really I don’t want this to be a blogpost about me or my job, I’ve already done one of those and I don’t want to bore you with the minutiae of my life.
No, this post is about our veterans. Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of The Great War. In the years since it has been morphed into a day to honor the veterans of the military, not just to honor the end of World War One. All our veterans, save the ones like Staff Sgt. Gibbs who are absolutely sickening and don’t deserve to be called veterans at all, deserve to be honored for their service.
My grandfather fought in the Second World War in the Pacific theater of operations. He’d joined the CCCs in 1938, lying about his age by two years in order to get in despite only being 16. That lie followed him the rest of his life, to the point that even the obituary printed by the funeral home read his false birthyear, because that’s how the government knew him.
During WWII he was a machine gunner, and indeed after he passed away last year we found a Japanese rifle he had secured from a soldier he’d killed. The story, as my father relayed it to me, is that the Japanese soldier had been out of ammunition and charged my grandfather. He engaged the man in hand to hand combat and ultimately prevailed; he was a bear of a man at 6’4″ and north of 200 lbs. of muscle in his youth, not to mention a bare knuckle boxer, so I’m not surprised by the outcome. He took the rifle as a war prize, and more than 65 years later I was holding it in my hands.
He fought on multiple islands during the war and indeed his unit had been one slated for the initial invasion of the Japanese main islands, Operation Olympic. Thankfully–for me at least, though it ended badly for the Japanese people–that invasion never came, because likely he would have died during that invasion if the estimated casualty rate had been accurate.
To my Granddad, may he rest in peace, and all the other veterans out there, I want to say thank you for your sacrifice. Even if you don’t agree with the war, you should always support the men and women sent into it.
Granddad and Granny, circa 1945