December 3, 2012

War is Hell

WWII killed my grandfather, Adam.

No, he didn't participate in the Big One.  A veteran of the Spanish-American War, The Splendid Little War*, he fibbed about his age and enlisted one year too soon. A kid from a small town in Indiana, blown away by the pro-Americanism heroics depicted in Randolph Hearst's broadsheets, he knew his near future involved spreading liberty to folks on islands thousands of miles away.

Though he survived that war, it was the second World War that drove him to poor health as a result of the stress from seeing his three sons-in-law and one of his sons in two theaters of war at the same time. Reports from the family said he was always pacing and smoking, listening to the never ending war news on the radio, reading the papers, not sleeping well. It is sad that he was not to live until VJ Day. He died of a massive stroke in July of 1945.

This is a particularly poignant and rather ironic story because my grandfather, who also suffered recurring attacks of malaria caused from his tour in the Philippine jungles and was miserable half the time, grew up in an strident anti-war household. My great grandfather, whose early American ancestors were Quakers, informed Adam that if he went off to join the Army, he would not send Adam to college.

Come to find out, that hard, stiff-necked old man meant every word of it.

Adam's complete rejection of his father's values must have been a blow, especially considering that he became successful in spite of the conditional love his father "gave" him. Adam had everything going for him. When he returned, he became extremely successful and respected in the community.

We in the family always laugh and nod our heads at the political side of Adam (because we have the same Republican sensors to Democrats). He had a particular "dislike" for President Roosevelt, having lost his Republican appointment! I can't actually say what my grandfather called the president...

I never got to meet my grandfather. He died one month before I was born. However, I feel a distinct connection to him. They tell me he was a lean, elegant man six-foot-four, who resembled Ralph Bellamy. He was known for being quite sentimental and loved a good story. His humor superceded any grudges or personal anger (except for Roosevelt) that may have crossed his life path.

I so wish I had known him.

Meanwhile, I can only imagine my that Grandfather Adam would certainly be pacing the floor these days, considering the men and women who are engaged in current theaters of war. I can almost smell the smoke and hear him shouting at the radio right now--along with some pretty hard cursing along the way, "My God, they wouldn't do that, would they?! Those *$%#@^s!"

Thanks for the read.

*Frank Freidal and Mark Clodfelter
 Burford Books (January 4, 2002)
 ISBN-10: 1580800939
 ISBN-13: 978-1580800938 

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