"Just got a message from [my mommy's cousin] that Uncle Bill passed away on Saturday night. 91 years."
We lost another one.
Uncle Bill was one of the dwindling servicemen and women who defended not just American, but other nations', soil, in World War II. A medal-winning college gymnast, he left school and ended up on Normandy's beaches. As his obituary reads, "after 92 days of near continuous combat," German forces captured him. Like so many others, he spent his 21st birthday not just in the armed forces, but as a prisoner of war.
Photo credit: University Archives, Special Collections Library, University Libraries, Pennsylvania State University.
Eventually, even as his family thought him dead, Uncle Bill and eleven other soldiers escaped the camp near Poland, ended up in Odessa, and made their way home. The rest of his life, he continued to serve those around him: as a teammate (1948 London Olympics), a professor, a coach, an advocate, a father, a husband, and a brother.
We're blessed, in our family, to have another World War II veteran. At 92, Uncle Toby (Uncle Bill's oldest sister's husband), was part of Patton's Army. His stories are still there for us, and my mother and stepdad visit with him weekly. H and some friends have gone to visit him, as have we. There's not much we can do at this point to thank him for his service, but we can be there. We can send pictures, and we can make sure he has what he needs.
And then, the other day, a friend sent me a link. She sent it to me because she knows I love fashion - and unique fashion, especially. She was already addicted to both the style and the story - and the salute - jewelry maker Shield & Honor weaves into every piece.
"No legacy, no matter how small, should go untold."
I bought two. I'll wear them daily, I think, because remembering the promise our nation and its heroes hold is so very important.