My grandpa was a Lieutenant Colonial in the U.S.M.C. He was a career Marine and served in three wars, including WWII. When I'd go to visit my grandparents, I'd stay in their guest bedroom. Across the hall from my room was a giant picture of my grandpa, taken while he was serving in the in the South Pacific. I'd lean in the room's doorway and study the black and white picture top to bottom, starting with the picture's wood frame. I'd run my eyes around its perimeter, connecting all four corners of perfectly aligned seams. He had made the frame himself out of reclaimed wood. My eyes would shift to the top of the palm tree, tracing down to the sign nailed just above his head: SNAFU (I learned the meaning of that fancy Marine acronym too). There my grandpa stood, centered, just beneath the sign. I'd take note of his thick, wavy hair, while moving down his angular nose, to stop at his dashing smile. I'd lean in closer to get a better look. I liked his teeth: strong and confident, very square. There was a small gap between his front teeth, which added character to his overall handsomeness. He was casually dressed in military attire, wearing a collared button-up loosely tucked into khaki trousers. He could have been a pin-up model for the Gap. He was that gorgeous.
Two nights ago mi Amor watched Saving Private Ryan. Throughout the rest of the evening we discussed and tried to understand the price paid for our current freedom. He's visited Normandy and can't talk about it without getting emotional. "The white crosses go on forever, Katy. It's unfathomable. The water there turned to blood. A blood bath."
It's estimated that seventy million lives were lost during WWII (about six million were Jews). That number boggles my mind, so to put its immensity in perspective, I started adding up current populations in my favorite states. Getting rid of the entire population in Utah, New York, California, and Arizona only adds up to about fifty-eight million. I stopped counting after reaching that number because I was truly horrified.
I'll never understand the tremendous sacrifices that were/are made for my freedom, but I'm grateful for my grandpa's courage and for the man he was. I thank him and the others who served and continue to serve this country. Thank you.