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Remembering the Fallen with My Grandfather


When I was growing up, my grandfather—whom we lovingly called Tops—used to tell me stories about his service in World War II. He was in the 3rd Division of the U.S. Army. Even though he was a Purple Heart and Prisoner of War for more than three months, he considered himself lucky to have made it home. Before he passed away in 2016, he told us, “I didn’t think I’d make it to 21, much less 93.”


He often told us heartwarming stories about the friends he made when he served or funny things that happened. Still, every once in a while, he would talk about the many losses he endured during his service—stories about fellow soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.


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Letters home from the War and from the HospitalLetters home from the War and from the Hospital

Missing in Action TelegramMissing in Action TelegramFollowing the War, he wrote for the local paper, became a teacher, and eventually served as a principal for 40+ years. After he retired, he taught history classes at the local college in his town. That was a perfect fit as someone who could tell you every detail of every historical event. As a book lover and a writer, he wrote many of his own stories from his experiences in the War. Since his passing, I’ve read all the journals he left us that detail every member of his company. He wrote about their hometowns, hobbies, families, and dreams for after the war. Tragically, there was great loss in his division and there were many cases where he wrote about the dear friends he lost during the war. Reading those stories from his perspective was truly heartbreaking but it gave me an even greater appreciation for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  


Tops never forgot the friends he lost. He and my grandmother visited some of their parents for years after the War. He knew it was important to keep their memories alive, honor their service and sacrifice, and remind their loved ones that even though time had passed, many others still thought of and remembered them often.


Sarah and Ernie Boyd: 50th Anniversary PartySarah and Ernie Boyd: 50th Anniversary PartyMemorial Day is dedicated to honoring those who have given their lives in service of our country. Each year on this day, I think about his friends and fellow soldiers, whom I felt like I got to know through Tops’ eyes. I also think of all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice since then. I think of those in our Southwest Family who have lost their loved ones. Please join me today in remembering and honoring those who have given up everything for our freedom.