Never Forget.

I don’t know what today holds for me – or any of us, for that matter.

But I know this: This day and every day of freedom we have enjoyed – and taken for granted – has been paid for by others. Our freedom has been paid for by men and women who left their lives behind, donned uniforms and set foot on foreign soil, never knowing if they’d ever see home again. Our freedom has been paid for…

In lost time.

In innocence.

In blood. Rivers of blood. Humanity has spilled enough blood to wash our society away.

But we have endured. We have survived. We have carried on, building lives that fulfill us and distract us from seeing the ghosts of those who have died so that future generations could continue living.

But they are they are there.


My grandfather was not a decorated soldier, but he fought. He was a boy when he joined the Polish resistance during the Second World War. He saw his friends executed, their bodies burned in the street. He fled Poland and eventually arrived in Germany as the war was reaching its bloody climax.

Grandpa may have inspired the phrase, “Out of the frying pan and into the fire.”

My grandparents met in Germany. My grandfather was a security officer for the United nations at a temporary holding camp for prisoners of war.

My grandmother, a nurse at a Nazi war hospital, was not.

Theirs was an unconventional romance to say the least. But I’ve always loved the fact their love sprouted from the horror of war. Never mind the image of a lone flower on a battlefield. Lovers thrown together by battle, that to me, is a testament to the resilience of humanity. My grandfather survived the war but he never really returned from the battlefield. He drank to forget. He tried to wash the rivers of blood away with alcohol. He tried to forget.

But I never will.

I have little more to offer.

Enjoy the day, my friends. Savor your freedom, today, and every day that follows.

For your freedom has been bought and paid for at an unbelievable cost. A bloody cost. A cost many of us would hesitate to pay. Those of us who aren’t true heroes, that is.

We romanticize veterans. We elevate them. But the truth is, they were simply men and women who sacrificed everything of value simply because their country asked them to. How many of us can say we have that courage within?

I hope we never have to find out.

To the ghosts of the Fallen, to my grandfather, I say this.

Thank you.


About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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17 Responses to Never Forget.

  1. REDdog says:

    Amen and respect Hook…we are the fortunate ones, to be sure

  2. H.E. ELLIS says:

    What a beautiful love story to come out of such a horrific time. You honor your grandparents by sharing their story here. Thank you, Hook.

  3. Austin says:

    Beautifully stated! Happy Veterans Day…

  4. Norm 2.0 says:

    Well said – great post!

  5. Paul says:

    Thank you Hook for this post. The debt we owe those who gave their lives for us, shall never be repaid.

  6. LVital7019 says:

    My Grandfather, son of a Russian orphan & immigrant, was lumped in with the China-Burma-India forces. He also drank to forget. I was his sometime-partner – on his lap as a young girl with a Shirley Temple in my hand while he drank his Chivas and talked war-stories with his buddy, the bartender & owner of the Chinese restaurant on Ralph Avenue which we frequented.

    You gave us a great post here… 🙂

  7. This was an absolutely beautiful tribute, Hook. My favorite thus far…and I’ve been reading them all morning.

  8. “The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the Blood of Patriots and tyrants” – Thomas Jefferson

    Your Grandfather and mine were men of Honor, Hook.

    Beautifully written, amigo.

  9. Wonderful piece, Robert. I do love your grandparents story. It is truly remarkable.

  10. orples says:

    We should romance and elevate our Vets, by showing them the respect they deserve. Every time I hear the term ‘homeless vet’, I cringe. There should be no such thing, given the number of empty houses, and other structures worldwide. I’m with you Hook. A big ‘Thank you’ is definitely in order. Have you ever wondered if you’d be here today, if not for war, given the way your grandparent’s met. There’s a little something to think about.

  11. renxkyoko says:

    Well said, Mr. Hook. Well said.

  12. Could not agree more. What a wonderful way to pay homage to those who do what must be done so that we don’t have to.

  13. Pamela Edwards says:

    Well Done !

  14. Robert… Your words are beautiful and I agree with every one. So many times people (myself included) take their freedom for granted. I have had friends and close family who serve and have served in the past. I always…ALWAYS tell them thank you whenever I have the opportunity. But I feel my words fall short of the true gratitude I feel. Thank you taking the time to recognize the men and women who richly deserve our support, love and gratitude for our UNdeserving freedom! 🙂

  15. CharleneMcD says:

    Hook, I just wanted to say Thank you. What a beautiful memory of your grandparents. Out of hardship and war comes a life long love. I am a disabled Air Force vet, I always feel strange responding to posts that thank Vets because I don’t think I did enough, I had great jobs both stateside and overseas, and through the grace of God I never had to serve in a war zone. Those vets that shed their blood for our freedoms will always be my heroes. Thanks again for such a wonderful post.

  16. I think the minute a person puts that uniform on, they are decorated soldiers. Your grandfather’s story is quite an amazing one, and I do remember what you wrote previously about him. It’s a good day to remember. Hopefully we add quite a few more days in our hearts throughout the year. Nicely done again, Robert.

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