My grandfather enlisted in the military just before World War I broke out as an engineer in the 316th Engineers, 91 Infantry.
Most of his duty entailed building bridges on the front lines in Belgium and France. He didn't tell my father much of what he saw but one thing he told my dad I will never forget. There was one point when my grandfathers unit came under enemy fire and they had to retreat. He and his buddy were running across a field and at the point my grandfather looked at his buddy his head pretty much exploded from enemy fire. My grandfather had just to just put his head down, leave his buddy and run to safety. No wonder he came back a shell of a man.
In another occasion his unit ran into some mustard gas and my grandfather caught a pretty good shot of it into his lungs. The effects of that gas weakened his heart and lungs for the rest of his life. Upon returning home he spent a lot of time sitting in his favorite chair, chain smoking and staring out the window. He was too weak to play much with my dad and he didn't say much about the war or anything for that matter.
He died in his early 60's and I never got a chance to meet him although I think about him often and ask my dad over and over about his life. I think about his service and what he sacrificed every morning as I hang our flag out front. My dad has the very large flag that was draped over his coffin and hangs it every veterans day and 4th of July. It fills up their big front window and can be seen from the street. It gives me chills to this day to see that massive flag raised and know who it symbolizes.
I want to thank all the veterans that I can in my life. Every time I meet someone who has served I thank them for their service. That of course includes our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as well. I may not agree with the war in Iraq but I support those soldiers 110%. They don't usually voice their position on the war that they are involved in as a tradition and usually the only thing that you'll hear from them is that they are fighting for their buddies.
May they all return safely to us and may we all take a moment of silence today to remember our brave soldiers and their service.
Interestingly this day use to be called Armistice Day which marked the end of the first world war.
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