The video below is a touching five-minute piece about a group of volunteers who transport World War II vets from around the country to see their new memorial in Washington, D.C. We're losing these men and women fast, and I don't think we can honor them enough before it's too late.
If my grandfather had lived a while longer, I'm sure he would've been on the bus with the rest of those boys. He was born in 1908, so already in his mid-thirties during the war. He was at D-Day and fought through Europe, and like most of his generation rarely talked seriously about it, although he had a couple of funny stories about guarding German POWs he liked to tell. I asked him about D-Day once, and all he said was, "the water was literally red with blood," with just about as haunted a look as I've ever seen. You don't ask a lot of follow-up questions after that.
The second chapter of WHTTWOT is set in 1945, giving me an opportunity to honor grandpa in a small way. On the final page of the chapter (page 60), we see that the boy Buddy keeps a snapshot of his Pop on his makeshift workbench:
And here's a snapshot of my grandpa, Leo P. Whalen, serving his country as a member of the U.S. Army's Ninth Air Force, 1942-45: