my great grandfather, fred, sr. fought in france in world war 1.
he lied about his age so that he could join the army. he was 2 years shy of the acceptable age, but his size belied his years and no one thought twice. record keeping was such, then, that he didn’t have to offer much to join, but his word.
he hadn’t even graduated high school. didn’t do that until he came home from the war.
he went on to do many things. he was a jack of all trades working in a shoe factory & a car manufacturing plant. he and his wife & my grandpa fred, called junior by his parents, moved around a bit to find work where they could. always had enough, meager as it was.
this is the grandpa justice i remember
the one who stood quietly among us & spoke very little. i was very young and he was very old, so there wasn’t much time for him to implant himself in my mind, but he is there. the silent one whose eyes sparkled with the love of his family & told much more than his words ever did. the one who built his own house and painted the basement walls on viola avenue with the visage of his beautiful wife and family. he dabbled in genealogy and set up registers of all the cemeteries in our rural southern illinois county by traveling to each plot and documenting names as well as birth and death dates. the records are in the special reference section in my small town library.
he fought for our freedom and i salute him, but especially his fallen comrades on this day of remembrance, for their final sacrifice.