Grandpa Tinker died a few years after I was born. I'm told he met me before he left though I was still asleep then. Lulled in a cradle, in a peace made possible by men like him. A Marine Corp officer stationed at Pearl Harbor who awoke to the sound of shouts on a day the world would never be allowed to forget. Mother said he never spoke a word about the war. Maybe that was his way of forgetting; his gift to my mother's generation was to bury that pain. He let it die inside so the fear, the anguish, the terror could not touch the ones he loved. The world gave him something he could not forget, something so painful he buried it in his heart with the memory of fellow marines and sailors in watery graves.
Grandpa Harry was a gunner on a B-29. The son of orthodox Jews, a first generation American born in New York. When he was stationed in Texas he met a young W.A.V.E. who would become my grandma. They couldn't wait for the war to end before getting married. When Granpa Harry was shot down over the Burma theatre they sent grandma a letter. Heartbroken and desperate she prayed. He and the survivors of his crew were picked up weeks later in the jungle, but not before contracting maleria. They went on to have 8 children, 3 their own and 5 adopted. Grandma always loved children. She became a school teacher. Grandpa Harry died before I was born, the world gave him something he could not forget either.
I do not like to think of the war as a battle between nations of this world. Good and evil do not fight under banners of nations, they have no borders, no anthems, only memories. They fight and die on battlefields of hearts that have buried hate, pain, and terror. My grandparents' hearts are memorials. Gleaming white tombstones on a field I cannot see, and cannot forget.
Photos of my grandparents for those interested: www.imgur.com/a/kjzzy A little late for a memorial day poem but better late than never. Thank you to all who've served.