Today is Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember fallen vets. And my grandfather is closest to my mind, so I’ll write a few brief words.
It was only a week ago, exactly a week mind you, that my girlfriend and I set out on a tour. And it didn’t hit me until we returned home, after I read some literature, a small pamphlet we had purchased, that mentioned the vehicle we were riding was used during WWII- a retired US amphibious transport vehicle.
I already knew that portion, but as I read further, and learned 2,000 were used in the Normandy invasion, an eerie sense of coincidence came over me.
My grandfather was a D-Day vet, and, very possibly, might have rode onto that beach, appalled by the war rendered carnage, on a similar Duck. Our excursion will probably live in our memory, being simply for pleasure; his ride was an experience, and I know for a fact it was, that would haunt him for the rest of his life.
I remember him telling me of that day. We sat at his kitchen table, a print of Davinci’s The Last Supper, a decoration that had always graced the wood paneled wall, across from me.
He had never talked about the war, and I was stunned – barely choking out responses. To this day, as I remember the conversation as if it were yesterday, I wonder if my responses were correct. Here was a WWII vet, my grandfather no less, and a purple heart recipient, talking about some of the most important moments of his life. And because of absolute reverence, I was probably the quietest I’ve ever been in my life – although ultra-attentive.
For some reason, I kept that conversation to myself, and was surprised to learn, the day of his funeral, that most family members didn’t know he had lived through D-Day. I said nothing, out of respect.
So, today, as I relive sandstone cliffs and scenic woodlands, now the ducks only purpose, I think of their designer’s original intent, and the chaos my grandfather, and his fellow soldiers, rode into that day. It’s funny how an inanimate object can make you feel close to a passed loved one.