Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Long Time Coming

There are a lot of people who have fought for this country, each with a different reason for doing it. For example, as a child I wanted to enlist in the Navy Seals. I know, it sounds strange for a 9 year old girl to want to grow up to be a Navy Seal, but it was specifically because I wanted to be like Demi Moore in G.I Jane. It's still kind of strange, I suppose, but back then she was my hero and in turn I wanted to be just like her. As I changed over the years, so did my heroes as well as my future occupations. When I was in high School, I began studying about World War II. My class watched several episodes of Band of Brothers, the HBO series, and when I realized what my Grandfather had gone through I realized who my true hero was. 

Charles Hilliard Cram was a medic on Iwo Jima during World War II. He enlisted before he could even get his High School diploma. I think about what I was like at seventeen, and try to imagine myself at that age fighting in a war. For me, it's impossible to comprehend what that would be like. What a responsibility that would be, to try to keep people alive during a war, and at such a young age. He doesn't talk about it very much, but he has told me a few things. Apparently chocolate, brandy, and morphine were his favorite items during the war: he said that they often ate chocolate at night to keep them awake, or they'd give it to children that they past on the streets, the brandy was used to help the guys that were in pain with mediocre wounds, and the Morphine was used for the people with severe wounds. To think about my seventeen year old grandpa running around Japan, saving lives and it just blows my mind. He is a real hero, Demi Moore has nothing on him.

One day my grandpa saw his friend get shot in the crossfire, and in an attempt to save his friend's life he crawled over to him. While he was dragging his friend's body back to safety, my grandpa was shot through the leg. Still he continued to drag him back,  and when he was out of harms way he tried to help his friend, but unfortunately he realized then that he was already dead. As a result of his heroism, he received a purple heart for being wounded, and a silver star for his bravery. Shortly after that the United States dropped the Atomic bombs, causing Japan to Surrender. My grandpa returned to California, got his GED, and shortly thereafter got a job packing boxes for a company called Gladding Mcbean. It was here that he met my Grandma.

Unfortunately, after having worked for this company from his late teens up until his mid fifties, the company let my grandpa go because of cut backs. So, in his mid-fifties he had to go get a new job because he no longer qualified for his retirement. Over the next two years he applied everywhere but everyone told him he was over qualified. It just breaks my heart when I think about it. All he wanted was a job to provide for his wife, and no one would even give him that. Finally he got a job through the Post Office. He started at the very bottom, separating packages. He got into the best shape he had ever been in. He began to move up in the company because he was such a hard worker. when he was in his late 60's he retired from the Post Office. Whenever I feel defeated I think about what my grandpa has gone through, and then It helps me to push forward because as many times as he was set back, he constantly got back up and finished what he needed to. 

To this day he is still  active in the veteran community, and in this next year he will be going to Washington D.C to be apart of a World War II Veteran Ceremony.

There's so much more to his life story, and I couldn't even begin to do him justice by trying to tell you all about it. I've ask him so many times to write a memoir, but he doesn't think it's worth reading. He's just so humble. I wish more people were like him. I hope that when I grow up, I have as much character as he does. I know that everyone admires their Grandparents, but seriously, my grandpa is probably the most incredible person I've ever met. 

I am so proud to be related to my greatest hero.


kiko said...

so well written.big hug to you and grandpa.enjoying summer? xoxo

Anonymous said...

Dear Carly,

What a beautiful story and tribute you wrote to our Bimpa. I didn't realize when I started to read the story that it was about you and then later about Bimpa.
Yes he makes us so proud of him, I cannot even begin to imagine what he had gone thru. We spoke briefly again about it, when we went up to Luke's Scholarship Awards Ceremony
and we were sharing a small lunch together before we went over to the university. He brought up the subject about Matthew, Luke's best friend who was by Luke's side when
he was attacked by the great white and when he so courageously swam back out to save Luke. He remarked that even in battle there are few men that would ever see something as traumatizing as Matthew had
and how hard it would be to ever leave you in your life time. I could only think too of Bimpa who as a teenager, so quick to enlist and want to defend our country, would grow up so quickly
and face reality and death in the eye. I could only hope that with the passage of time that the images fade into shades of grey like the strands of our hair and the parts of our mind
that we seem to forget as we we slip into our golden years. Yes I am so proud of our Bimpa. Probably the most revealing about him is his humble persona. He is a pinnacle of strength that stands
so tall and silent like the sequoias amongst the other trees in the forest. I am so proud to call him my father, he has given your father and I the roots to grow strong and courageous when we too
are faced with times of adversity. You and your sisters as seedling who have those same roots inside, that will give you the inspiration to do incredible things with your lives, when you need to find
the courage deep inside to do so. There is no doubt in my mind we have all been blessed.

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