Dear Itty Bit -
The title probably doesn’t make much sense yet. But I hope you’ll understand more of what makes my heart ache and what makes it proud, by the end of this letter.
See… you’re missing someone important in your life. Someone you would have adored as much as I did.
Son, your great-granddaddy was a United States Marine.
A hero in the truest sense.
A man who traded carefree days for ones where he watched barely-grown men like himself lose their lives on the sands of Iwo Jima.
A man who had to wonder why he was spared and 26,000 others were not.
I can only imagine what he felt as he watched the first flag rise on Mount Suribachi. Perhaps the familiar red white and blue gave him a sense of home on that tiny forsaken island. Maybe it was relief. Though a homecoming was not soon.
Son, he went on to fight in some of the bloodiest campaigns of the Solomon Islands. Surely God had a hand in sparing his life.
It is amazing to me to think that you and I would not exist had he lost his life so far from home.
He didn’t lose it, but he certainly gave it. Like many men and women who give of their blood sweat and tears each day to make this a safer place for you to grow up in. Protecting lives of little children your age – halfway across the world. Giving them a chance to become parents and grandfathers themselves.
After all that, Itty Bit – he was weary of fighting. Yet he had another mission.
He was there, kiddo. On the beaches of Guam.
Where another 7000+ men were killed or wounded.
And where he walked the streets of cheering Guamanians and looked into the eyes of children that now had a future.
He never forgot. Their simple gratitude left a profound impact.
He returned home a changed man. He met and married his fiery red-headed sweetheart. Well, that man had himself an even set of sons and daughters.
Sweet boy, this is how I would have imagined you with your Great-Grandpa too. You would have loved his stories.
A bigger-than-life man who had lived the headlines that most had only read in newspapers. And witnessed things that could never be captured in printed words. A man with a soft spot for little kids. And an amazing whistle that could knock your socks off.
And those Guamanians? If he ever met one on the street, he’d promptly offer to take them to lunch. Their gratitude had earned his. Funny thing, no?
So pay it forward, kid. Don’t be afraid to stand up for the right. Don’t let anyone tell you the odds are impossible. ‘Cause you are the third generation living proof that God has a reason for every single life.
Thank those in uniform every chance you get.
And Good Wins, honey. Never forget: GOOD WINS.