Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day!


Sarah says, "Happy Memorial Day Everyone!"
Actually, she's probably saying, "Whoo hoo! Mommy let me play with this stick that could put my eye out, and it has a pretty flappy thing on it that matches my precious outfit!"

That picture was taken back in 1991 during a welcome back cookout for Todd's brother Stu, when he had just gotten back from the first war in Iraq. Stu spent his time there riding around in a tank, talking to pilots, giving them information they needed to protect the soldiers on the ground. We were so glad to get him home.

On this Memorial Day I think of people like Stu, men and women with responsibilities and families who were willing to serve their country in countless brave ways.

I also think of Glen E. Kuhn, my maternal grandfather.
I wanted to find a picture to show you. My mom gave me several copies of photos of my grandfather, but I put them away for safe keeping, and now I can't find them. I wanted to show you how handsome he looked back in 1943. There's a picture I'm remembering of him in his uniform, with his hat slightly askew, smiling at my Granny Farley. He was quite a looker.

Glen Kuhn lied about his age so that he could join the army early. He fell in love with my grandmother, Sarah Mae, and they married, and then my mother came along. He was shipped off to France during World War II and he died on July 29, 1944, on my mother's first birthday.
Mom has has no memories of him of course, but she does have his trunk and several treasures from his life: his flag and his photo albums, a Limoges tea cup he planned to bring home to his little family, and several postcards he sent to my grandma and to her while she was just an infant. My favorite is the one on which he said that the war would be something to tell his grandchildren about one day. I've always liked that he thought of me and my brother Steve.

He's buried at the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer, France. My family visited his grave for the first time when I was in college. It was powerful, seeing my mother stand before his cross, close to her father for the first time since he held her as a baby. I always felt sad for her that he died on her birthday, that the two days were so intertwined in her life, but guess what? On July 29, 1992, something wonderful happened. My son Ben was born! It's nice how things happen sometimes.

When we lived in France we visited his grave, and each time we did the experience blew me away. A guide would go with us to the cross and would fill in the letters with sand so that his name would stand out among the thousands of crosses. Then the guide would signal the playing Taps on the loudspeaker, and the minute the music started, old men and women all over the cemetery would stop what they were doing and put their hands over their hearts. Try not tearing up at that. It can't be done!

Once while we were in Normandy, we met a British veteran who had piloted a glider that landed at Pegasus Bridge and had helped seize the bridge. He told us his story, and I was so glad to listen. What a history lesson for my children-- and for me and Todd!
Here they are.


So today I'm thinking of that little old man and men and women like him, who served their country, those that died and those that live.

And I'm thinking of military families everywhere.
Families like this one.

Hey Stu and Swanee! Hey Mary and Kerry (my in-laws) ! Hey Amelia, Bailey, Cassie, and Jill.
Sorry that I had to use a picture from 1999 (?) to find one of you five together! The girls are all in middle and high school now. That's just ridiculous. We must take more photos!

Stu is an F-16 pilot and just found out Thursday that he has to leave again for Iraq today. Today! For four months.
To say it nicely, that's just the pits. Swanee is a pro at this now (this is his third trip to the desert) and will handle things fine. But still, it's four months.

So if you haven't already, would you say a prayer for military families all over?
We love them and thank them for their service and sacrifice. And we pray for our government, that it will only send them when absolutely necessary.

Have a great Memorial Day!
Love, Becky

10 comments:

TattingChic said...

I'm sorry I couldn't finish reading your whole post because it made me cry....your Grandfather's passing on your Mother's first birthday and all....but Happy Memorial Day to you too.

La Belette Rouge said...

Rebecca: What an incredibly touching post. What a lovely memorial you have created here, Rebecca. With your words and images you have put the sand in your grandfather's name and made it stand out among all of the others who we celebrate and remember today.

JaxPop said...

Great post. Your comments & stories capture the spirit & emotion of the day, those that grateful Americans should feel. Hope you & yours have a terrific day.

By the way, I was born on July the 29th.

Adaora A. said...

Everyone knows someone who was - and is - in the military.

Hurrah to military families. I live in Canada but I was born in the good ol' state of Connecticut. Fairfield County forever baby!

Anonymous said...

Your beautiful tribute made me cry, in the best way, out of love for my country and the simple bravery that stands up for the right things in life.
God Bless You.

-Bobbi

You bet you've got my prayers too.

Susan said...

Wonderful post! I've been to that cemetery. It is so powerful, you are right.

Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups said...

What a sweet little flag-bearer. Touching post.

Nilz said...

Moved me! It'll move all! You must be proud to be a part of such a family! I realized from this post that how much respect you do have for your ancestors. Happy Memorial Day!

Susie Q said...

What a wonderful, oh so moving account of your grandfather. YOu must be so proud of your heritage. I thank you for sharing it with us...
my father lost one of his best friends on D Day and he is buried in France. Dad always wanted to go there so now it is up to me to fulfill that wish.
Dad was in the Pacific during WW II, Bill's Dad was a tad younger and served in the Korean War and Vietnam.
Bill
served 27 years in the Navy as an aviator so I do understand a bit of what your friend goes through. I worried about him whether he was away in peace time or at war. Bless them all...

Love,
Sue

StitchinByTheLake said...

Hi Rebecca - thanks for this story about your grandfather. It touched my heart and reminded me of my father, a very proud WWII vet.