My Grandfather, William Hobson Thomas, was a giant of a man, in my life.
He lied and joined the army at the age of 16—
Granddad would tell the story that when he came to the killing fields he was a juvenile soldier, just an ordinary guy, and that night he was assigned to guard duty. The night was dark and he was young and afraid. All along the path he was guarding he would see something glowing in the trees, sometimes the lights would flash causing something to glow on the ground. As the day gradually faded the night, he saw it was bones. Bones from those who had died and were placed in the trees or under the bushes to protect them some, bones glowing in the dark.
It was the Christmas season which encouraged Will Thomas to become a cook. He said it was cold and the snow was coming, the trenches were deep, with water and frozen to their feet. The night was silent with big white flakes floating down through the sky to land silently on the ground. The guys were lonesome and homesick; missing the folks back home, when one of the men started singing Silent Night, pretty soon others were joining in until there were many voices singing (quietly) carols to the Lord.
When they ran out of songs, in the dead of the night, with snow flakes piling up all around them, they heard off in the distance in German, the same carols.
Willy knew from that moment on he did NOT want to shoot another human being; they were just like him, cherishing the same types of things he cherished. As soon as possible he asked for the position of cook, it wouldn’t keep him from having to fight, but it would help keep him from having to fight as much!
He never stopped being proud of being an American. Years and Years later
He carried the Flag way into his old age…having to ride in a car to do so.
To this day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day mean so very much to me. I can’t see our Flag with out tears blurring my eyes–turning the colors of red, white and blue into fractured slabs and streaks of color.
At the Memorial to the Unknown Soldier when TAPS rings out across a silent cemetery pinwheels of sound fill my ears causing my heart to wobble.
To those of you—who are reading this…I Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
For those who have given the ultimate sacrifice…my heart breaks and heals all at the same time.
Your friend on a western Colorado farm,