Miles From Fenway

Living History
September 22, 2006, 3:09 pm
Filed under: family

For most of our generation war is an abstract concept. Sure, we’re waging one in Iraq, but the scale of troop deployment, the lack of a draft, and the advent of television news coverage has desensitized most of us to the realities of large scale combat.

For my grandfather’s generation, nothing could be further from the truth. Almost all of the men in my family who are of my grandfather’s age served in World War II. They fought on the ground and in the air, they saw things many of us have read about in history books. And yet … they barely speak of what they did.

Or at least, my Papa doesn’t. Papa was a tailgunner – a fact I only learned somewhere in the last ten years or so. I’ve never really gotten stories about the war, about why he enlisted, how long he served, what his rank was. When I was working at the Beacon Press as a summer intern I got the chance to work on a book called The People and the President. As I read through the letters of thousands of Americans to FDR after each of his fireside chats, I would talk to my grandparents about what it was like to have heard them. What the country was like at that time. And yet, I still have very little idea about what Papa’s life was like then. They spoke in general terms of people gathering around the radio, neighborhoods coming together to listen to FDR speak. They spoke of feeling like he was a part of the family, of never having that kind of connection to our nation’s leader either before or since.

But this weekend, I hope to learn more. As an 80th birthday present to my Papa, his three children, my mother included, each chipped in to pay for my grandparents to travel from Florida to Washington, DC to visit the WWII memorial. I’ll join my mother, my aunts, uncles, and cousins for the trip. I’m ridiculously sick (yes, Michael, you warned me) but wouldn’t miss this opportunity for the world. To see my Papa visit a memorial dedicated to him and the men he served with just isn’t the sort of opportunity that arises every day.

I hope you all have a great weekend.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Finy, if you get this, and it’s very early sunday morning, now, and you’re still in DC on sunday, email me at…I’d love to meet you in person while you’re in DC…I’m sure you won’t get this till you get back, but I wish I knew you were coming!
Hope you had a good time…

Comment by MattySox

Wow. Awesome FINY. Smart move on your family’s part. Very nice of you guys to do that for them. I never really got to know either of my grandfather’s because they both died early. One before I was born the other early on in my life.

Comment by edmund dantes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: