Written by Marykate O’Malley, mother of three wonderful children, Gladwyne, PA
Because we can all agree we should thank our Veterans…. A repost.
I never met him. He died before I was born. But my grandmother would tell me stories about her brother, my great uncle, Jimmy McCaughey. He was in the Army during World War II. He started in Africa and made his way across Europe fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, being taken as a POW and later escaping, and earning a purple heart.
As a child in my grandmother’s living room, on the ledge of a deep windowsill above a love seat, there was a photograph of my Uncle Jimmy and his dazzling wife. Her hair was curled and she had dark red lipstick and a radiant smile. As a child I was fascinated by the photograph. Uncle Jimmy, his wife. 2 puzzle pieces that didn’t fit in the sea of familiar faces and family members. I would frequently ask the question, knowing the answer, but wanting to hear the story of him. And then I would settle in and listen – that is Uncle Jimmy. He worked for the Pentagon and lived in Alexandria, VA. He was a golf pro you know at Llanerch Country Club. When he died one of his friends put a golf ball in his casket. He loved golf, and was very good at it. He is buried at Arlington Cemetery. And my grandmother would tell me about her brother and he would come to life before me.
Today – Llanerch Country Club, where my son now plays soccer on a field just behind the greens where he once played and gave lessons. 2 generations removed. And only a photograph and story away. I show my son this photograph. And ask him if he remembers going to Arlington. He asks me about Uncle Jimmy. I wish I had more to tell, the stories squirreled away and now trying to remember the details. Photographs are bridges from one generation to the next. And stories breathe life into those photographs. Stories allow our histories to rise from the paper and reveal themselves before us.
I wish I had the chance to meet him. And hear the Irish wit and his grace of weaving a story. I wish I could watch him chide his sister and drop a perfect line to get the room roaring with laughter as I am told only he could. And if I did meet him, I would want to say one most important and simple thing – thank you. Thank you for your courage and sacrifice. Thank you for your service. Thank you for fighting so that we, and others, may be free. Thank you for all you did for your country, for humanity, for me, for our family. Thank you, thank you, thank you, a million times thank you.