My Grandpa Burt was a WWII veteran. He was a radio operator for a B-24 aircraft, which at one point was shot down over enemy territory, and he was taken as a prisoner of war. A few years ago I had the privilege of accompanying my family to visit the sites of his P.O.W. camps.
Not much is left of them now, just a few bricks, and a water trench in one. I can't imagine what Grandpa went through in that time, especially during the last march, where all they could hope for was that the Allies would catch up to them, and that their guards would keep them alive until then.
Grandpa only recently started talking about and recording his war stories, when my mother was growing up it was understood that his time in the war just was never discussed.
But my grandfather's life wasn't all hardship. Long before the famous MIT hack placing a police cruise on top of the Great Dome, when Grandpa Burt was a kid he and his took apart a wooden buggy, nuck it into their schoolhouse through the coal chute piece by piece, then reassembled it in the schoolroom! He was always good with his hands, and I remember him doing a lot of woodcrafts when I was growing up. One of my favorites was a paddle with wooden chickens ringed around one side, with strings attached to each one and joined to a wooden peg on the other side. When you held the paddle with the chicken-side up, and moved it back and forth, the swinging peg on the bottom would pull on the strings, which would make the chickens "peck".
I'm proud to be decended to one of the Greatest Generation. Grandpa Burt went through a lot for his country, and he was good husband, father, and grandfather. I was honored to be a part of his well-deserved veteran's funeral.