My 3-year-old daughter is fortunate enough to have great-grandparents in her life who play with her and tell highly amusing anecdotes detailing the differences between her life and theirs when they were children. Something struck me recently – when they are gone, there will be no one in her life who has lived through a world war.
My own grandfather used to tell my brother and me war stories that sounded like they were out of the movies – to our young ears they sounded incredible. My grandfather, Wing Commander at 24, awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) from the RAF as well as an American DFC; the war hero, the tough guy. My heart would swell with pride when I spoke about him.
I wrote a poem about his life in the war which was published in my yearbook, and my mum called him so that I could read it to him. To my utter astonishment, he cried. I remember being stunned that this seemingly fearless man cried at a poem.
What I didn’t know as a child, of course, was what the war takes from survivors. I didn’t know that for years he would wake up screaming from nightmares, nor about all the friends he had lost.
I hope that my daughter never has to live through such an event, but I will make sure that she understands the sacrifices that veterans made and continue to make for others.
From all of us at the TITUS family, thank you to everyone who has served or supported both past and current conflicts.