Thursday, December 16, 2004

Why blog?

He was about my age when he died. There are many things I’d like to know about him, questions I’d like to ask, but he left behind only a few clues. Naturalization papers that declared him a U.S. citizen right about the same time he was entering the army to fight his mother country and his own brothers. There is a photo of him in a baker’s cap. A letter to his widow informs her of his death in a V.A. hospital in Dayton.

His son, my father, was only twelve years old when he died, and can remember little about my grandfather. We know he left a medieval-looking village, Fritzlar, Germany when he was about seventeen. Why, we do not know, but we know that he worked for his uncle, a baker. Wouldn’t you like to know, though, what propelled a native-born German to, shortly after arriving in America, join the armed forces and fight his brothers’ army? Was it the promise of citizenship, did he have strong political views, was it for the money? And, how was he treated, a German in an American army, fighting the Germans?

After inhaling mustard gas on the beaches of Normandy, and the end of the war, he returned to Cincinnati and the Depression era. Money must’ve been pretty tight, as Dad remembers being very poor, collecting scrap metal for a few extra dollars. Sometime after we again went to war with his native country, the mustard gas finally took its toll on him, but the questions remain unanswered.

In part, my questions about him are why I want to start writing more. We are here but a short time, and unless we write of our life and experiences, we take them with us when we go. No one can ask any questions, but only look for any clues to what we might have been like. There are those that knew us well, but even that view of ourselves is filtered through their eyes. This is a record of who I am now, as I know I will become and change into someone else, an older “me”. This is a way of leaving clues of what I might’ve been like, and what life was like for me in this time. Perhaps time travel is possible – through the written word.

1 comment:

gr8daneluvr said...

A wonderful way to document your life... you're off to a great start. Have you actually done (or started) a family tree yet? I started one about 3 or 4 years ago,and it's fascinating work. But if you're not careful, it can be a very time consuming task. If you haven't yet started, and would like to borrow any of my resource material, let me know.
kim

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