Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Drip (04/25/13)
TITLE: Memories of Grandpa
By Jennifer Martin
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Whatever it was that had turned my grandfather into this heavily medicated, angry man, I always felt a strong compassion toward him, and a burning desire to discover more about his past. He passed away not long after I graduated from Navy boot camp, about 10 years ago now. Since his death, I have found his valor award information and have determined that he was most likely taken captive during the Chinese invasion of Pyongyang. I can find little else on the specifics. Mostly, I just cling to the few personal experiences he shared with me.
I can still picture him in his recliner, holding one of the dachshunds he loved so much that he would fatten them to the point of being unable to even waddle on their short legs. His large hand would paw absentmindedly at the auburn fur as he wandered back to a place and time that had burned itself into his conscious. He would vividly (by vividly, I mean in language that was not suitable for my young ears) recount how the Chinese soldiers came running by the droves, and overtook the American tanks by sheer number. There were just too doggone many of them for the tanks to fight off.
He was taken to a POW camp, where he subsisted on a basic diet of rice for more than two and a half years. By the time he was released, his 6’1 frame weighed in at only 94 pounds. Aside from the near starvation and some attempts at indoctrination, he insisted that very little torture of the prisoners occurred. Except for one form of torture. I can still hear his raspy Illinois accent recounting how prisoners were subjected to water torture. He would describe how a prisoner would be restrained on his back and tiny drops of water would be dripped onto his forehead at varying intervals.
Eventually, this would drive the captive into a frantic state. My grandfather never did say whether he endured the torture himself or merely witnessed it. Whenever he talked about it, his eyes would grow distant and his jaw would set firmly with long-harbored rage.
I can’t even begin to imagine what prisoners of war endure. Soldiers who have seen combat, and certainly those who have experienced captivity, understand the limits of the human psyche as no academic ever will. To this day, I have no idea whether or not my grandfather accepted the gift of salvation before he died. But I pray he did. I pray that his soul is finally at peace.
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