Tonight I walked past a war memorial with a prisoner of war flag on top. Those black and white flags always stop me in my tracks and flood my memory with images of my earthly hero, my Pop.
Its only fitting this Memorial Day weekend to tell you about a man who is so dear to my heart. My grandfather was a paratrooper in WWII. He jumped during the early hours of D-Day and was captured by the Germans. He spent 11 months in a prisoner of war camp before being liberated. There are few details my family knows about his time there. I can only imagine that spending almost a year of his life wondering if he would ever see his loved ones again would not be something he would want dwell on.
This is only my second Memorial Day without him. He passed away in December of 2008 after 87 years of a very full life. His funeral was held in the same church he attended since his childhood. Its stained glass windows were the very ones he pictured during those grueling days as a prisoner. God used those images to give my Pop hope that he would make it home.
He did make it home to begin a love story with my grandmother, raise 3 wonderful children, one being my mom, and invest pure joy and love in his 6 grandkids. Oh, what treasured memories I have with my Pop. As much as I did not want to say good-bye, I have never felt so proud as the moment when the military presented a 21 gun salute and handed an American flag to my mom, saying "On behalf of the United States Army, we are very sorry for your loss."
As we drove away from the cemetary that day, Tony said to me that he was so inspired by Pop that it almost made him want to join the military. He too considered Pop a great American, and I picture them embracing in heaven like Tony always greeted him, "Hey, Pop."
Sometimes I feel so very alone as a widow, but sadly, I learn of others in this stage of life almost every week. My heart goes out this weekend to the widows of those servicemen who did not make it home. All I can tell you is thank you. Your hardship, your tears, your sacrifice allows me to be free.
Dearly loved American,