Rifles and swords are just small memories of veterans

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 11, 2003

As far as I know, they are still hanging on Granddad's basement wall.

They are not displayed in a flashy manner - just a piece of about 3-by-4 particle board with metal hooks holding the keepsakes in place. Nevertheless, the rifles, bayonets and swords on that wall tell a story - a story of a man who served his country in World War II.

As a child, I just thought they were cool. Granddad has a pool table in his basement, so the other kids in the neighborhood and I would visit my grandparents from time to time to shoot some pool. I would always show them off to those who hadn't seen them before.

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I would say "Granddad was in the war and this is what he brought back." Back then, the guns and other things were, well, more or less for show, in my mind.

As I grew older, however, they came to mean much more. Granddad served in the Army, and saw action in both Germany and Japan. The more I learned about WWII, the more those rifles, bayonets and swords meant to me.

Like Granddad, many young men of his generation joined the military to serve their country during World War II. Most of those men, assuredly, have tangible items such as weapons by which to remember the war. The intangibles - most notably their recollection of their time overseas - are much more timeless.

In my eyes, World War II veterans are some of the most interesting people among us. This is not saying veterans of other wars are not interesting, it's just that I have had many more conversations with WWII veterans.

Today, being Veterans Day, we honor the men and women of our armed forces. Take time to thank the veterans you know - those who served during wars and in times of peace. They all deserve a big salute.

Shawn Doyle is managing editor of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached by calling (740) 532-1445 ext. 19 or by e-mail to shawn.doyle@irontontribune.com