gave me his old watch before he died. It is by no means impressive. The face
is a light khaki
colored and the band
had been replaced with a heinous
metal link abomination. The crystal
had also been broken and replaced with one that did not quite look right, which in turn also became cracked (between 11 and 12). Well, the other day the watchband
for my quartz
watch broke so I went to get a new one. In the meantime I strapped on my grandfathers 1944 wind-up wrist watch, as I am so used to having one on my wrist
While in the store I noticed a leather band in the case and I remembered that the watch originally had a brown leather band. I bought it, and the jeweler put it on. When I handed him the watch he looked it over for a few minutes before noting it's condition asking me the history of this unusual time piece.
I briefly related that the watch was Army issue for the invasion of Normandy in World War II and that my grandfather had given it to me. The jeweler installed the band on this watch that looked strangely out of place among diamonds and Rolexs.
I strapped the old watch back on and pocketed my newer quartz movement and was on my way. In the car I checked the time; something was different. The watch. No longer did it look like a 1960's throw-back. The brown leather band had recaptured a look that is both lost and timeless. The watch had taken on the personality of an old soldier who dons his uniform one last time. The casing was still scratched and pitted, the face a maze of crossing pits and furrows, but the band somehow made it look new.
Looking at that watch on my wrist in the year of 2001, I moved through time itself. The watch remained the same, fewer scratches perhaps, but the same. I saw it as my grandfather must have. Counting down the seconds on a troop transport off the French coast waiting for my LST to arrive. Stealing a glance in the blunt-bowed LST on the way to the beach, wondering if I would live to wind it again. The comfortable weight on my wrist as I call fire control for the USS Nevada bombarding the Nazi fortifications on Utah beach.
Winding the watch that night in my hole, wondering if I would live to wind it again in the morning.
The watch is old, the crystal cracked, the casing dented. It keeps perfect time.
I wear it with pride
An old soldier of a day long past.
It’s not mine, I’m just borrowing it.
Note: I know this is technically, a GTKY node, I decided to post it anyway. I am not usually one to node this way; I prefer more factual nodes. I am a believer in noding for the ages, and this is why I posted this particular write-up. Let me explain. My Grandfather was a veteran of World War II, the imagined scene on the beaches of Normandy may not have happened as I describe it since I wasn't there, but he was. By grandfather died only a few months prior to me drafting these lines, and it had a profound effect on me. I am an amateur student of World War II history and I began to realize that already World War II is a long forgotten conflict. Every day more and more brave fighting men and women, or even people who were alive at the time, are dying. Their memories and first-hand experiences lost. This year is the 60th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. When I am the age of my grandfather, it will be over 100 years since the US entered the greatest armed conflict of all time. I believe that it is vital to document and preserve the stories and first-hand accounts of the second World War as best as we can. It should be by these stories, not dates and events, that World War II is remembered.