Wow, the things you learn about people you've known all your life can surprise you.
Had a great visit to the Ozarks. Went to see my Grandfather's two sisters, and that's always wonderful. They are cheerful, lovely women. They're both in their 80s, and are the spiky, sparky sort of women who crop up in my family pretty frequently. They are brilliant cooks and gardeners, and my crochet might approach being a pale shadow of theirs if I practice for about 30 more years.
My great-uncle was a POW during WWII, and I was startled when he brought out his photo the Nazi welcoming committee took of him on the first day at Stalag whatever-it-was. There was a series of numbers above his head, and another 7-digit number on a chalk board hung around his neck on a string. Shocking to see. Handsome young man, looked like a one not to be trifled with. He said the Allied troops gave them back their personal records from the camp files when they were liberated.
He'd been on the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) up north building dams before he was drafted. Incredibly nice, quiet man, he is.
He volunteered to be the gunner for a mission to Germany, and the plane was shot down on that fateful day. I asked him what was going through his mind at the moment the photo was taken, and he said he was wondering when he would get out of there. He didn't mention it, but I know his shoulder was dislocated during a rough landing in the parachute, so he had to be in some degree of pain at that time, as well. He was 20 years old.
I asked how long he was imprisoned there, and he didn't miss a beat as he said "17 months and 7 days."
Greatest generation, indeed. We must take care to remember what our forebears have gone through in service of our country. They are not proud, and they don't go around tooting their own horns, but they deserve our respect and our thanks.