This particular spot at Jacksonville National Cemetery caught my attention, not only because of the overwhelming display of flowers but because this gentleman passed away exactly one week ago. I came back to it a second time and while I was crouched down examining all the flowers, Elle pointed out to me that this man’s name on the plastic tag matched the name on the gravemarker right next to it.
I’m not quite sure if this photo was taken before or after my grandfather was shot down in World War II (he was a tailgunner), but he did survive to return to America where he had three children and raised his family in Ohio and South Florida. He died three months after I was born.
I never got to know my grandfather as a person, only as a memory through pictures, old war documents, and short stories told by relatives who still speak of him, all these years later. I also learned more about him through a museum in Pooler, Georgia dedicated to those who fought in World War II with the Mighty 8th Air Force – they actually have their very own museum.
So to my grandfather, I say thank you. To my father, my brother, my uncles and great-uncle, to my friends who enlisted after high school, after college, and after September 11th…I say thank you. More than you will ever know.