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My grandpa served in WWI.

I asked him about his experience once, when he was about 90 years old. He was a medic working to bring the wounded in from No Man's Land, through mud, blood, and bombs. After a few minutes and one funny story about taking a bath outside in the middle of winter with ice ringed around the top of the tub. He started to tell me of an experience bringing in the wounded. After that second story, he paused, looked away and said, "Honey, I can't talk about this."

I don't think he ever told anyone about his experiences in The Great War.

Seeing the promos for the newest PBS documentary on the war got me thinking about Gramps. I was only 19 when I asked him such a serious question, not really realizing how serious a question it was for someone that experienced such horror. I always saw him as beloved Gramps, hollering with a slight Scottish Brogue, since he was always turning off his hearing aids to save the batteries (he got them free from the Veterans Hospital BTW, the old cheapskate). He was elf-like, with his big ears and nose that had continued to grow in his old age. His trousers belted just below his armpits. He was really a ridiculous, but spirited sight. My dad is looking more and more like him, just as deaf, stubborn, and ridiculous as Gramps was.

The Great War on PBS Airs April 10th. I'll be watching.

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chestnutnola

August 2017

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