Recently I had the good fortune to find a forgotten family gem, personal histories from WWII written by two of my grandfather’s brothers. It was an opportunity to learn about uncles I barely knew and get personal insights into one of the most important events of the 20th century.
What struck me was how often the word “lucky” came up in their accounts. Certainly they both mentioned hardships, both personal and physical, but their gratitude for what they did have — especially in contrast to those who had it so much worse — was deeply moving. Each brother spent about 3-1/2 years in the service, a long time to be in a war and away from home, and yet they told their stories with acceptance and grace. Even their comments about the futility of arguing with the Army had a certain air of positive resolve, rather than bitterness or even resignation. My grandfather, his three brothers, and their uncle (shown above) all served many years, and all came home. Those must have been long years not only for them, but for their wives and family as well.
Stoicism is a hallmark of my father’s family, although I did not inherit as much of it as I would like. I never forget I have been very lucky in life, but reading their stories inspires me to focus more on remembering the good more than the bad.