Memories of Grandpa in Luxembourg

As many of you readers will have noticed I don’t usually publish on our blog.  However today I am struck by an occasion so stirring that I felt the need to convey my own words on the blog.   With this said I believe this moment, as many important moments in life are, is best defined by context- in this case the context of my childhood.

I never knew my grandparents well, in fact I probably saw them infrequently enough to number our visits on one hand (maybe two). When I say grandparents I am referring to the parents of my mother because my father’s parents passed away; one before I was born and the other when I was very young.  I had always known since I can remember that Grandpa fought in some of the most historic battles in WWII.  Though he never talked about them except to one of his sons, The War was something that was constantly on my mind when around him, though I was told not and never dared to ask.  It was almost as if it was a shadow that loomed about him that was visible to all, but mentioned by none.  Part of the allure of this shadow is the fact that my Dad is a history buff, an interest that was most certainly passed down to me.  Just glancing at my father’s bookshelf as a child I remember seeing volumes cataloging everything about the second World War.  I so desired as a little kid to know my grandfather better and to hear the stories that he had brought back.

To me as a kid the war seemed like a game, something we told stories about, something we pretended to play behind our house with paintball guns.  As with many things in life we seem to romanticise war to the point where we just see all the glory and honor but none of the pain and suffering.  Maybe it is time passing or being removed from the scenes of such events; whatever the case we forget the true horror that is war.  Perhaps we read statistics on how many people died to the point that we forget that each number was a person, a son, a daughter, a father, or a mother.

I do not write this to be a downer or to convict you, but to inspire.  An inspiration of gratitude for an almost completely  faded generation that sacrificed everything for something greater than themselves.  People who with their one life gave it up to rid the world of an evil.  It is with this attitude and thought that I walked away from a sea of white.

The American Cemetery in Luxembourg is one of great significance to my family though I am the first to have the honor of visiting it.  My grandfather was the in the battle that this cemetery commemorates.  Most of the soldiers that rest here are from the winter campaign of ’44 to the spring of ’45 in what is better known as the Battle of the Bulge.

It was about a 20 minute walk from the bus stop. From there Kati, baby, our friend Anissa, and I all walked in the rain to honor my grandfather’s comrades.

Walking in honor of

As the sounds of the road faded, they were replaced by that of the soft pattering rain and the coursing of small streams running down the sides of the path.

Rain

It’s days and moments like this that remind me how cluttered my life is, and how peaceful it is when all the sounds of our fast paced modern world are washed away.  I have always marveled at how rain has the unique ability to make everything seem so green and alive even when the sky is so grey.

Finally at the top of the hill a gate of blue and gold stood watch over her charge and a lone trumpet sounding off taps in the background greeted us as we arrived.

Gate of Gold

You do not have to walk far into the cemetery to see the sea of white crosses and stars ahead of you.  In perfect symmetry against a background of beautiful red and green trees contrasted to the dark sky lay 5,076 of America’s children.

contrast

At the front, as if commanding once more, lies their General George S. Patton Jr. with memorials to each side commemorating their glorious achievements as a tomb immortalizing their sacrifice forevermore.

Patton gravestone

Such a somber feeling of gratitude and peace has scarcely befallen me as the sight that seemed to roll out as a scroll before me.

Luxembourg American Cemetery

Each day these soldiers rest here in peace whether we remember them or not.  Their sacrifice whispers to those quiet enough to hear them.

To say that this day was special to me would be missing the point.  These men knew my grandfather perhaps better than I did, and gazing at their gift to us has brought me closer to his memory than I have ever been.

“I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish”

À la prochaine.

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12 responses to “Memories of Grandpa in Luxembourg

  1. Great post and great photos!
    Your touching writing means a lot , not only for American people , but for all those who want to commemorate WWII with gratitude towards these soldiers.
    Thank you for this share!

  2. We are satisfied for Dave that he was able to go in a cimetery identical to that of Colleville on Sea and that he was able to take in himself by thinking of his grandfather.
    Sorry not to have resumed faster contact, job and sleep that is fast thought of as everybody, by hoping that all the small family goes very Big Big kisses The Sauvage family Bye ………

    • Hey Sauvage family!
      Thanks again for that trip it truly was touching and will be something I carry with me for the rest of my days! We miss you all a lot and Laila says hi!
      Dave

  3. Your beautiful words and pictures serve as a reminder of why we celebrate Memorial Day. They evoked a sense of peace as well as gratitude for the sacrifices these soldiers made. I was given a card of the American flag by a World War II veteran that I have kept in my purse and your words have reinforced the meaning behind this card. I can only believe your grandfather would have loved to read this as well.

    • Hey Debbie,
      Thanks for the comment and glad you enjoyed the blog. Remembering in thanks and acting accordingly is the best gift we have to give back to those that make these kinds of sacrifices. We miss you all be will see you soon!
      Dave

  4. Dave,
    Dad never spoke of the war until near the end of his life. On his bed in the rehab center, after his leg was amputated was the first and only time he spoke of it to me. I had framed a letter and honor that had come to him from France. He cried as he told me he had seen terrible things so many years ago. Aunt Ronnie has dad’s (grandpop’s) letters he wrote to his mom (my grandmother) during the war. It is a living history lesson about my dad and the war I learned about only after he died. I hope you will read them someday.
    War does many things to those who participate. The impact is immeasurable. I’m so glad you have chosen to connect and honor my dad the way you have – thank you. Love, Mom

    • Hey mom,
      Thanks for the comment I would live to read those letters some day it really would be amazing. As for grandpa breaking down after the amputation I remember that day as if it were yesterday. It is clear that time does not heal all wounds but I imagine he is at peace now and I am glad that I have had the opportunity to uncover his past.
      Love and miss you
      Dave

  5. p.s. your writing is a gift. please share more of it with us. you have much to share with the words you write. =)

  6. Dave, So glad you got to experience this. My jealousy is only exceeded by how proud I am of the man you have become. I can sense generations long gone are giving you a snappy salute and a raised shot glass. And that we will do towards them when we meet.

    • I desire perhaps more than anything to share these moments with you dad, and I hope someday to do just that. We shall raise a glass and more upon our return. Can’t wait to see you and miss you greatly!
      Dave

  7. Pingback: Memorial Day in Paris | This Wandering Life·

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