What does Veteran’s Day mean to you? Is it a day off, dinner with your family, a day trip or casual thank you to a stranger? Perhaps it is all of that. Do we actually pause to think about it with real thought or do we simply say we appreciate the service of others? Do we stop to think about the stories behind the uniform on Veterans Day? Perhaps some do. My grandfather was a US Army Veteran; a funny & unique little man pretty set in his ways who, in my opinion, grew funnier as he grew older. He died a few years ago and as Veterans Day approaches, I think of him again, like every year.
Albert Atwood was my mother’s adoptive father. He married my grandmother and lived in East Bridgewater, MA for more than 60 years. Together they raised 5 children. He liked to tinker and build things for friends and family wielding plywood like a champ! He built the house they lived in from a chicken coop! My mother grew up in that house with her 4 sisters all piled into that second floor area that barely qualified as a crawl space-turned- bedroom for. My Nana worked at a local mill but most of their money came from the job at Brockton Tool Co. which my grandfather worked as a machinist, until he retired in 1981. In my day he was the guy who proudly marched in uniform in parades, was set in his ways and on most days could be found parked in front of his tiny TV watching The Boston Red Sox. Beyond my memories however, there was a story of a survivor.
Albert Atwood was born in Marshfield MA and grew up in Green Harbor. He was a disabled veteran of the U.S. Army and former P.O.W. of the second World War. He was held in a German a POW camp for nine months after his capture at the Battle of the Bulge; where he was forced to help build the railroad for the Germans as the U.S. attacked. It was during one such bombing, that he was injured and lost his hearing. It was the last major German offensive campaign of World War II carrying the highest casualties for any operation during the war. It was this that earned him the Purple Heart, an honor awarded to those wounded or killed while serving, on April 5, 1917.
He was a lifetime member of Disabled American Veterans Brockton Chapter 76 since 1959. He served as their commander in 1962 and 1973 and also held active positions within his chapter over a 25 year period.
This is what I remember on Veterans Day. I think of the Albert Atwood that I didn’t know and say a quiet thank you for doing his part in his time to make our country a better, safer and nicer place to live. His life is a fitting Veterans Day story. Before becoming “Grampy” or Dad, he served his country and was proud to do so. In the simplest terms he was a Veteran. I think of the days that he lived when times were simpler even though our challenges were not. I think of him and I say ‘Thank You.’ Who or what do you think of as we celebrate Veterans Day?