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May 30, 2005

Memorial Day Done Wrong

Memorial Day is supposed to be about soldiers who've died in all of America's wars. Veterans Day is for all veterans, whether they were killed in battle or not. But I'm going to ignore the rules and mention my late grandfather, who was in the Army during World War II but certainly didn't die then.

That's him, to the left. He was a captain for most of the war until he was promoted to major right at the end. He landed at Normandy on D-Day, although he was part of a military government corps—that is, the people responsible for setting up governments in liberated areas—so he was at the back.

Beyond this, my family doesn't know much about what he did during the war; he probably spent little or no time in combat, but whatever happened, he didn't talk about it much. But here are a few things my father and aunt remember that might or might not be accurate:

1. He had happy memories of giving candy and gum to French children

2. He accepted the surrender of several hundred German soldiers, which was ridiculous because because he was only a captain and had very few men with him. However, the Germans were desperate to give themselves up and my grandfather was the highest ranking American they could find.

3. He spent some time in charge of the 10th arrondissement in Paris. Most of his job consisted of trying to find the people who ran the arrondissement before the war and get them to start doing it again.

4. When the war was over, he may have traveled to Nuremberg to search for the members of his father's family who'd lived there. However, he couldn't find any of them.

That's about it. Below is another picture of him; he's in the back row, second from left. I have no idea who the other people are, although on the back of the picture is written "Mons, Belgium, Christmas Eve, 1944." Mons is a few hundred miles east-northeast from Normandy.

Posted at May 30, 2005 03:50 PM | TrackBack