I am grateful for three grandparents, an uncle, and a cousin that have served in the armed forces for our country.
It’s my grandfather Robert that stands out for his service the most, in my eyes. He served in the Korean War in the 1950s and it was then, while based in Japan, that he met my grandmother, Sueko (who I previously remembered here).
He was tall and gentle. He was the father of my mother and we knew each other only 9 years. His death was the first close family loss I ever experienced and while I’ve lived the majority of my life now with him only in memories, I feel his influence around me often.
I have greater respect for our armed forced because of him. I know it’s because of his openness and interest in a woman from an exotic culture that my life is so full of diversity. And of course everyday when I put on my 34 inch long pants, I am reminded that he is surely and genetically responsible for my height.
While he was in the U.S. Navy, he was awarded a number of medals honoring his service, most notably the Purple Heart, for shrapnel wounds to the leg he received during conflict. In addition, he received the Korean Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Navy Service Occupation Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. Several years before his death (at the young age of 62), he sat me down and gifted me with his medals. I remember the day vividly. I sat quietly, as I usually did in his presence, as he meticulously laid out and explained each to me, and handed them over one by one, a transfer in ownership.
For many years after his death, the medals were stored in various places… as I graduated high school, college and eventually moved to California. Earlier this year I realized the medals needed a proper home and deserved a more worthy display. I did a little Pinterest and Etsy research and determined that there was no display available for purchase that met my precise requirements. So I sketched out a plan for a frame display that I would create myself with a variety of supplies.
The project came together not long ago, with a beautiful photo of my grandfather in uniform that my mom sent to me, and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. The display now lives proudly on the wall above my bed, amidst some other personal art.
Thank you to all that have served to make the world a more peaceful place…