Memorial Day: Remembering My Grandfather

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My maternal grandfather would have been 101 this Friday. A World War Two Veteran, 9th Infantry Division Army, who landed in Utah Beach DDay plus 4, he was 98 when he passed away. My grandfather outlived three wives, and is survived by three children, five grandchildren and at the time of his death one great grandchild.


Although he lived a healthy and fulfilling 70 years post service, my grandfather’s time in the army was an integral part of his life.  His Purple Heart and various other metals including the French Legion of Honor (awarded to American WW 2 vets who landed in Normandy) were displayed upon entering his home; his yearly commitment to attend 9th Infantry division events throughout the country no matter where they were; his visit to the World War Two museum in New Orleans where he was then asked to recall in detail on video his war experience. The interview- taken when he was in his late 80s- lasted close to three hours.

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Given his life and accomplishments, it felt that he would live “forever”. On a recent trip to Florida, when I landed in Fort Lauderdale, it felt strange not visiting him.  I was fortunate enough though to have Sophia meet him in November 2012.

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Often with three day weekends, we don’t take the time to even think about why we have a federal holiday in the first place. Specifically, Memorial Day is a day to honor those who died in combat. Yet for many of us, it’s a time that we mark as the start of summer and we celebrate with BBQS, parties, and weather permitting outdoor activities and travel.

 By no means am I suggesting we shouldn’t enjoy ourselves and those who we love. I am suggesting that we also take the time to reflect and recognize those who lost their lives fighting for us.

 Sophia is finishing up kindergarten; here, they are studying families. While she was too young to remember when it actually happened, she  knows that she did meet two of her great grandfathers.

 This Memorial Day weekend, I will be heading to Sag Harbor.  For those of you who know me, I always like to say my parents bought in Sag Harbor before “The Hamptons were The Hamptons” nearly 40 years ago.  As I spent my entire life going out there, it is particularly special for me to share this history now with Sophia. While we are out there, I will be sure to enjoy, and educate Sophia on why she has no school on Monday.  

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Laura Kovall