Elliott recently had a family heritage project for school (yes, another school project) where he was asked to interview his grandparents about our family tree and any memorable family stories. In true big-sister, alpha-dog style, Bella has hijacked the project. She has always loved all things “hippy” (ok, not ALL things, just the G-rated stuff.) but only recently is maturing enough to really understand the era of the Vietnam War. One story from my mom struck a chord with Bella.
She told the story about a POW bracelet that is stored in one of her infamous “memorabilia” Rubbermaid tubs in the storage closet. For those of you pre-Vietnam, there were bracelets you could get that had the name of an actual prisoner of war on them. The idea was that you were supposed to wear the bracelet until the POW returned home (love this story of a woman who has been wearing hers for 40 years). One day, my grandmother was watching the nightly news where they were talking about some of the POWs that had been returned to the US. One name sounded familiar. Sure enough, my mother could take off her bracelet.
“How cool would it be to send the bracelet to the soldier?” suggested my husband this morning over coffee. Seeing as the bracelet is not ours to give, Bella mentioned it might be nice just to send a letter that, at the very least, let him know that his years of service were not forgotten. With the Internet, a few keystrokes may very well pop up a way to contact this former POW...or his family in the even that he has passed away.
My fear is that it will bring up memories that he has long since tried to bury. My hope is that he has worked past the scars of war and is now enjoying his own grandchildren or living out whatever dream may have played over in his mind while he served our country so bravely.
What started as a trendy fashion piece has now translated into a story of war, politics, suffering and rescue two generations later. It is a tangible piece of history. The question is whether this history should be left as our family story, or shared with another.