Today is the first anniversary of my Grandfather’s death. Though I am sentimental and an emotional type person, I would not have known this had my genealogy software not sent me a reminder of this fact.
What I found interesting is that today would have been his older brother’s birthday. He died about 10 years ago. I am sure my Mom was aware of this bit of trivia. But, I don’t remember it being mentioned at the funeral.
My grandfather was part of what has come to be known as The Greatest Generation. These are people born around 1920 (PaPaw was born in 1923). This generation went to World War II to defend our nation, the bastion of Western Civilization and freedom, from the evils of the rest of the world. They fought proudly and pulled our nation back to it’s patriotic and religious roots. Unfortunately, this was not always passed down to the generation that followed.
Tom Brokaw wrote a book with the title The Greatest Generation. I have read some of the book and have a much greater respect for my grandfather and the world in which he grew up.
PaPaw did not talk about the war much. And when he did, he talked about people and friends, not actions and events. Or, at least, that is my recollection. His funeral was attended by a military honor guard. I still have a shell casing from the 21 gun salute that was bestowed to him.
It was my privilege to speak at the funeral, and typical of me, I did not spend hours thinking about what I would say. I just sat on stage and jotted down a few thoughts while the pastor was delivering his comments. I probably still have the paper that I wrote those few words on (my wife claims I never get rid of anything). I just commented about how my grandfather was a man who influenced many lives and that he was a good example to us all. A good and faithful friend.
As a Justice of the Peace in Texas for 25 years, he was well known both in the small town of Pecos, Texas where his office was located and the even smaller town of Toyah where my grandparents called home for 50 years. The funeral was attended by every branch of law enforcement officers in the area. If my memory serves, we even had a couple of Texas Rangers (not baseball players) in attendance.
I am thinking more about his generation than him at this time. While I am reading a book about the moral decay in the USA that took root in the 60s and lingers to today, I think back on the world which my grandfather helped to shape. Or, at the very least, that he was privileged to enjoy. Though his generation was not perfect, they, as a whole, remind me of an ideal time period which we remember fondly when we look at Norman Rockwell paintings.
If you live in the US and have access to someone from the “Greatest Generation,” take some time to sit down with them and learn about a different world. Though I don’t think I could live without a computer, it would be fun to step back in time to visit the world that they knew intimately. Obviously the War was a tough time, but the US before and shortly after the War was a special place to be.