My birthday is Tuesday and, since I’ve expressed that there’s nothing I want or need right now, my parents gave me the kind of gift that just cannot be replicated.As I’ve mentioned on this blog and on my Journey to Tunisia blog, I’m taking my father to Tunisia in Spring/Summer 2014 to visit the North Africa American Cemetery, where his great uncle, Pete, is buried, having died in the Tunisia Campaign in 1943. My father, who was in touch through the years with Pete’s widow, has become the “caretaker” of Pete’s belongings. Boots, uniforms, ribbons, training notes, letters, certificates, journals – my dad has had it all, and I’ve grown up with these items and the stories associated with them. Dad wrote a book about Pete, so he also has tons of the research he’s done and interviews with men who served with Pete who have since passed away.
For my birthday, they gave it all to me. ALL OF IT. They gave me so much stuff, in fact – from the aforementioned boots to cases containing models of the tanks Pete used as part of the 1st Armored Division – that it filled up both the cargo space and the backseat of my HHR.
I will soon start the long and exciting process of cataloging these items. I’ll either post them here or on the Tunisia blog (still unsure), but I’m very excited that Dad has passed these things along to me. He knows that, of everyone in the family, these things will matter most to me. And it gives me a great opportunity to get to know this man better before we trek to the African continent to stand at his grave.