It’s About Them: In Memoriam

I’m back in the saddle at Ignitum Today this week, posting some reflections on Memorial Day and my family.

He hated tattoos. My paternal grandfather, the other Charles Joseph. He died when I was 11, but I remember a conversation, one of many had during summer visits to their home, when he told me of his aversion of tattoos. You see, here was there. At Buchenwald. He walked into that stinking pit of hell, wearing Army fatigues and the face of a boy forced into manhood at the end of a rifle. He spoke Hungarian and a little German, so he was a useful translator, telling the stories of this living nightmare, from the mouths of skeletal survivors to the ears of horrified soldiers. He hated tattoos because they reminded him of what he saw there, at the end of the war. He hated them because they represented years of his life that even an ocean and 40 years failed to erase. He never spoke of what he witnessed in the camp, or of friends lost in battle, though I learned later from my grandmother of many fellow soldiers killed while he fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He did his duty to God and Country, and when it was over, it was over. All that remained, all that was shared from that time was his hatred for tattoos. He may have survived, but a part of him died at Buchenwald in 1945.

Read the rest here.


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  • Pat

    Thank you for writing. I read the rest of the beautiful posting at Ignitum. Your writing prompts me to stop and think. To think of people’s sacrifices and for my own departed loved ones.