My maternal grandfather, who died years before I was born, was a veteran of World War I. Amazingly, he kept a diary on his person as he served in Europe.

I excuse myself for losing my shopping list before I get to the grocery store because my life is so stressful. He was gassed. He endured thirst, fatigue, hunger, illness, battle, seeing death, weather exposure and loneliness. Fortunately, he came home. So did his diary. My mom made us copies and donated the original to a museum.

I know Memorial Day is a day to remember those who gave their lives during military service. But I also pause to remember all types of sacrifices made by our soldiers. Nothing brings it home more to me than my grandfather’s diary. I left the copy in the living room for my daughter and me to look at during the day.

Never complaining in tone, the writing tells of feeling “blue” some days, but more days were “dandy”.

The August 27, 1918 entry describes his feeling sick all day and having a fever of 101 degrees when went to the doctor that night. The August 28 entry says he felt sick all night but had to hike 10 miles that day and stay all night in a field.

When I’m sick, in my warm queen-size with my down comforter pulled up to my neck, I think about how it would feel to know I could be forced out of bed to march for miles. There may be little food or water and at the end I might get to rest in a rainy field all night.

You died before I could meet you, Grandpa. But I know what you did for me. And I think you’re dandy!