Updated: May 26, 2019

Grandpa George | Papa Carmen

While this weekend is a time to look forward to a day off of work, a barbecue, a cocktail or two with friends... it is most importantly a time to reflect on what Memorial Day is all about.

For those of us who have family members who serve or have served, it is our duty to remind others to take a moment to remember to be grateful to our service members for their dedication to our country and for the sacrifices they have made.

Both of my grandfathers fought in WWII. I was lucky enough to grow up with them both living with my family and though they didn't often talk about their time in the service, I grew up knowing that these two men were not only my heroes but a part of a thread that connects all of our heroes.

Grandpa George, my mom's dad, was the consummate gentleman. He was gentle and kind, while remaining stoic and proud. Most of my memories of my grandfather revolve around him doting on my grandmother in the most loving of ways. He had the kindest eyes I had ever seen as a child.

Grandpa George fought in WWII and was stationed in the Philippines where he contracted Milaria though was fortunate enough to make it through. A letter was found that he had wrote to my grandmother while stationed across the world.  He told her that he wished that he could have her there with him though it would be like "bringing an angel to hell".

Papa Carmen, my dad's dad, was my bestie when I was growing up. His room was next to mine and when I would sneak out of my room at night, it was not to go out and meet up with my friends but to hang out with my Papa Carmen. He was one of the sweetest, funniest, light-hearted people I have ever known with a smile always on his face and a contagious laugh to boot!

Papa Carmen was a fearless medic who was one of the few lucky survivors in one of history's bloodiest battles... the first wave of Omaha Beach in Normandy: D-Day. He had seen things I cannot even imagine seeing but yet remained such a light in all of our lives.

Though neither of my grandfathers talked much about their time in the service, it was evident that they had been through hell and back but chose to focus on the fact that they were of the lucky ones to be given the chance to come back. Both lived their lives in gratitude and I am fortunate enough to have grown up with them both by my side. What a gift!

So this weekend while you are enjoying your corn-on-the-cob and a cold one, kicking back with friends and family, just be sure to take a moment to thank those who fought for your right to do so.

And to all service members, thank you for your service. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

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