Two of my uncles fought in World War II, but neither of them were at Normandy 70 years ago.
It seems just a few years ago that I sat on an uncomfortable picnic table videotaping my four uncles (on my mom's side) as they described their military service.
Uncle Junior (that's what we always called him, but his name is Luther) was drafted into the army. He was sent to Italy and was wounded three times. Each time, they sent him back into battle.
|Here's a picture of my mom with Uncle Junior last year.
"Out of the frying pan, into the fire," he said.
I'll have to revisit those tapes so I can remember more specifically where Uncle Junior fought.
His stories were part of my inspiration to write the character Uncle Martin in my novel The Summer of France. The only thing they really shared though was fighting in Italy and growing up in Kentucky.
My real uncle came home after the war and married a wonderful American woman.
When Uncle Junior got in the war, he wrote home and warned his brothers to enlist rather than get drafted into the army. So Uncle Clarence, the next oldest brother, joined the Navy. As we talked about war experiences that day, he went to the car and pulled out an envelope that had a large laminated certificate that declared he had crossed the international dateline.
Uncle Clarence died a year and a half ago, but Uncle Junior was at the family reunion again this past Sunday. He's thin but cheerful and always loving.
I'm so thrilled that I've gotten to hear my uncle's stories and share in their lives. They gave a lot for the safety of our world and hopefully, they felt they lived the kind of life they wanted in repayment for their service.