My grandparents, on both sides of the family, participated in World War II. My maternal grandfather, Harold, was in the Navy, serving in the Pacific. He survived a bomb attack that destroyed his ship, and was one of the first to touch ground in Okinawa.
My paternal grandfather, Ku Pan, was a pilot (eventually a Major General) in the Chinese Air Force. He flew over 120 missions during the war, and spent some time training on a base in Pueblo, Colorado. I’ve been looking at his graduation certificates this morning. He loved America like crazy, and our food. Especially hamburgers.
My maternal grandmother didn’t fight in the war, but she survived it — which to me, is just as amazing an achievement. She was in China during the invasion, and if there’s one story I’m going to write someday, it’ll be hers. She’s the woman on the left in the photo below, along with her two friends, Wu Yi and Zhang Yi, both of whom were with her during the war.
I suppose this is said a lot, but it bears repeating: We owe so much to these people who lived and died for us. The past feels far away, but it isn’t. It is immediate, it is alive, and it must be remembered. The present must be remembered, as well. All the sacrifices those in service make for us now, and will make, must be honored with gratitude, compassion, and dedication.
Shame on us, if we don’t.