Last week I chose to write about my grandmother sending her three boys off to war: One to the Army Air Corps, one to the Army Signal Corps, and one to the Navy. I wonder if she hung the Blue Star flag from one of our store windows with three stars for my father and two uncles.
The only war she would have known by then would have been World War I. Two of her brothers had been conscripted into the Austrian Army. By 1914, she was already in America. When America entered the war in 1917, her new country would be fighting against her old country and her brothers.
Their once Austro-Hungarian hometown reverted to Poland after Polish independence in 1918. In 1939, as a result of the Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, Kozlow now belonged to Ukraine. By the time America entered World War II, those two brothers had likely already succumbed to Nazi bullets or Belzec following the Nazi invasion of the region in the summer of 1941.
My father never talked about his war service. But he kept everything: photos, Stars & Stripes, documents, his army jacket, and his prayer book. In one of his V (for Victory) mails to his parents, ten days after the German surrender, he talked only about getting together with his mother’s cousin Bernie in England.
I haven’t found a throughline yet for this essay. I don’t know whether it will be about my grandmother or about each of her three boys. I’ve emailed some of my cousins to see what they know about their fathers’ war service. We’ve been deciphering insignias and patches, like these that include Meritorious Service (wreath), Overseas assignments (four horizontal bars), staff sergeant (chevrons), and member of the Ninth Air Force (number 9 with wings):
I think this particular essay will become more of a full-length essay than a vignette.
This week I’ll be writing my next installment to #52snapshots about family visits on Sunday afternoons.