Saturday, July 5, 2014

Independence Day: Memories of a Hero

Maybe it's the 4th of July holiday or maybe its all the time I've spent in the hammock recently, but my Grandaddy has been on my mind.

Yesterday was the 4th so like any good and patriotic American, I strapped on my stars and stripes bikini while I whistled Lee Greenwood's Proud to be an American and walked out to the hammock in our all-American backyard, waving to neighbors and anticipating dusk so the husband and I could see our small-town fireworks display.

How much more American can you get than a yellow lab?!

Swinging and whistling on the hammock made me go back to my fondest 4th of July memories, those hot Florida days when we would eat hotdogs and watermelon until our stomachs ached, and I would beg my Grandaddy, my best friend, my main man, to put up his Pawley's Island hammock between those two perfect trees in the backyard. He would always oblige and we would swing and swing. Maybe we were there for 10 minutes or 2 hours, I have no idea. All I knew was that it was a beautiful and happy day because I was surrounded by love and Red White and Blue. 

I was young and didn't understand the importance of such a holiday. I didn't understand why we celebrated or why there were fireworks. I didn't realize at the time that even though I was always celebrating my Grandaddy because of my love for him, the rest of America was celebrating him right then because of what he did for his country.

Carroll Ray Morris, fondly known as Grandaddy, was born in West Virginia, served in the US Army during WWII as a military policeman in Germany, and was your true American Hero. I don't know what all he saw while he served his country or what memories went through his head on any given day years later, surfacing in any given nightmare, and I don't know what kind of pride, loss, hurt, or relief he felt on those holidays that are meant to cause memories and patriotism.

He died when I was 16 and there are days, so many days, that I think of yet another question I wish I would have asked him or a situation I could sit down and talk to him about. Maybe he didn't want to talk about his Army days and that's why I don't know more than I do. Maybe they were uneventful, although I truly doubt it. Maybe he was too humble to admit any of his brave acts of valor.

All I know is that he served his country and when his soul went to Heaven and his body was buried 10 years ago, an American flag was there. America lost another WWII veteran and I lost my beloved Grandaddy.

Whenever I swing in the hammock or think of our brave American veterans, I think of that blue-eyed gentleman and our sweet time together in the fleeting sunshine. His memory presents itself to me in a few other special ways, too, and I can never help but smile. Sometimes that smile is accompanied by a tear but always a smile.

As a child, I didn't realize my Grandaddy was an American Hero, I only knew that he was my hero. And I think that was enough. For him, and for me.