This is the same type of plane my grandfather flew in bombing raids over Europe in WWII, a B-26 Martin Marauder. If you are interested, I highly recommend reading a little of it’s history here. Fascinating would be an undertstatement.
As many, though not all, of his generation did, he never would really talk about the war. The only comment I ever heard him say was more than enough to express how the war had stayed with him, deeply within him all these years later.
At a Memorial Day prayer, he said – “And Lord, we remember those we saw go down in burning flames.”
And that was enough.
More than barely bringing his crew in over the white cliffs of Dover with only one engine working (found a newspaper clipping), and more than all of the missions completed or medals and awards he received.
All of those tell the tale of a great hero, but this statement tells the story of that hero’s heart.
Years of silence were betrayed in that one sentence.
I never asked him why he said it. I didn’t need to. Everything I needed to know was wrapped up inside those few words. His memories and his grief were once again his own. I’m forever grateful for that one phrase – for that small moment when he let me share his war experience with him. It was enough to spark in me, a young women caught up on her own world, a love and appreciation for the price of my freedom.