Awakening a Keen Observer

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Behind the Pencil

I have the last letter that my Uncle Clyde wrote home. (Clyde was the youngest child in my father's family he was born in 1916) This letter was written 10 days before he died in the "northern africa' campaign in WWII . He ends it thanking his Aunt and Uncle for the pencil saying, there are a lot of stories behind it now waiting to be told.
Those stories were never told by him. And as sadness compounds the government lost the belongings he had when he died, an ink pen, a mechanical pencil, several photo wallets and $21.00 and change. They got a check for the money but none of the other effects.
There are several letters between my grandparents and the gov about finding those 'effects' and finally letters saying that they were not found. Not many effects of value but they would have liked that pencil.
One of his friends wrote about his death. He was killed by the concussion of a bomb that landed near them. He made a point of saying that Clyde's body wasn't cut up or anything. He was buried in Sicily. I found the site of his grave on the internet though no family member I know of has ever visited.
There are other letters, one signed by General Marshall and others expressing their sadness and the hope that he died in honor while fighting for freedom.
Then the letters about the fact that the government had made a mistake and that he hadn't been injured the end of July and althought his pay for August had been forwarded to my Grandmother since he had died in July, not just injured, she needed to immediately return the 'extra' pay. I don't know how much it was---but it wasn't much---but it was more than they had to immediately cover their loss. They couldn't afford to pay for his body to be brought home and I think during such a war that was often never an option.
My Grandmother's heart was never the same. She died when I was four --my Daddy said of a broken heart. Deep sigh.

On the Evening news on PBS they show the pictures and information about soldiers who have died in the past week with their picture and information. There is no music in the background. Today there were four more.
I imagine my Grandmother's heart, and know that Alabama and Georgia and two other states there are Grandmother's hearts that are breaking.
--many stories behind the pencil-- has any returning soldier written of their time in afghanistan or iraq? I'd be intested to know.

God abide and bring peace
Bobbie Giltz McGarey


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