Source: Sherman Publications

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My Way
I miss my grandpa

by CJ Carnacchio

May 30, 2012

I had an unexpected emotional moment following the Memorial Day ceremony at Ridgelawn Cemetery.

I was chatting with World War II veteran Frank Kidder, of Oxford, about his experiences when I started thinking about my grandfather, Carl W. Raetzel.

He served in the U.S. Army during WWII as an infantryman in the Pacific Theater.

I told Kidder about him and how I was the only one with whom he'd ever shared his war stories.

For years, he told me about army life, what it was like fighting the Japanese, some of the missions he went on, the friends he made, the friends he lost.

One day, my mother told me how lucky I was because he never spoke of such things when she was growing up. The war was something he kept to himself.

I'll never forget the pride I felt. I was just a little kid, but I knew that grandpa was sharing something very special with me. He loved and trusted me enough to tell me things that he'd kept locked away for many years. He wasn't just telling me cool war stories, he was lightening a burden he'd carried alone for 40 years.

I was so honored when grandpa gave me his uniform and his medals. Even though it was much too big for me at the time, I remember trying it on, looking in the mirror and imagining what it was like to be him in the 1940s. I also imagined what it was like to be the type of man he was quiet, but strong; devoted to his family; hard-working; loyal and caring.

My eyes started to water and I found it quite difficult to speak as I relayed some of this to Mr. Kidder.

I was embarrassed by this unexpected flood of emotion, but Mr. Kidder let me know it was all right and that he appreciated the depth of my feeling and my respect for not only my grandfather, but other veterans like himself.

One of my biggest regrets in life is that I never had the opportunity to say good-bye to my grandpa when he died last year. Some unfortunate family circumstances prevented me from seeing him one last time.

If I could have had one final chat with grandpa, I would have thanked him for sharing such a significant part of his life with me. I would have thanked him for helping me become the man I am today and hugged him one last time.

I miss you, Grandpa. I love you.

I'm sorry I couldn't be there.