Friday, November 11, 2016

Veteran's Day - A Tribute to My Grandfather

Veterans Day marks the anniversary of the end of the first World War, but celebrates and honors all U.S. Soldiers' service.  Originally known as Armistice Day, in 1954 it was renamed as Veterans Day and is a federal holiday with no mail services and government and banks closed. 

My grandfather was in France before the end of the Great War, a name it was also known by.  He was the eldest son of Norwegian immigrants who were living in Wisconsin.  His younger brother remained on the farm to help their father.  He also had two sisters.  During the war, while serving as a machine gunner with the American Expeditionary Forces in France at St. Aignan and the Argonne Forest, he became one of many victims of mustard gas and was hospitalized for some time prior to his return home.  
Dressed in gas-mask and military garb.
I don't know where, nor when the above photo was taken.  It may have been taken while still in the States, or it may have been taken where stationed in France, but it is my grandfather during WWI.

904 Casual Co formed at St.Aignan, France - Camp Hill, VA Feb 23, 1919_closeup
The 904th photo was taken just after his return from France.  This is a cropped portion of the original photo.  My grandfather is the very short man in the back.  The other men are unidentified.  

I'm guessing the portrait photo was taken sometime after the war, but before he married in 1927.  I think I inherited his ears, and his cheeks...high-boned, and hollow - very evident when I was young and thin though not so much now. 
Grandpa and his catch.
This is how I remember Grandpa.  He and Grandma lived in a small, but quaint little cottage on the Oregon coast from the time I was young until his passing.  He loved to fish for salmon, and loved to eat it too!  He enjoyed his lapidary hobby and made, and gifted, a lot of jewelry items from agates and stones he found on the beach as well as those purchased raw which he tumbled or polished himself.  I have some of his jewelry and a bolo tie or two.

I remember he loved ice cream too, and gladiolas.  He loved my Grandmother, his sons, his grandchildren, and family and friends in general.  He loved the Lord too...even if he could be a bit legalistic at times-he did NOT like playing cards!  He was loving and affectionate.  He was kind and gentle, yet firm.  I know of no one who ever had a bad word to say about him.  

He had only an 8th-grade education yet worked in the county assessor's office.   Degrees weren't necessary back then.  He had beautiful penmanship.  He started me on my genealogical journey when I was but yet a teenager.  I inherited his genealogy work, but it took a couple decades before having time and resources to further the work on it. 

His life was, in my opinion, far too short.  I was only 17 when he passed on Christmas Eve.  I had seen him just a few weeks before that but I wasn't feeling well (in my young troubled life I had chosen to partake in things I should not have the night before) , so it wasn't the best of visits.  It haunted me for a long, long time.  I would dream, close to nightmares, at night that he was out under the oak trees near our house.  It's been 46 years and I still regret the choice I made back then.  But, I know I will see my grandparents again one day, and that brings me comfort.  Grandpa, I miss you!! 

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