C Hummel Kornell
Friday, June 25, 2010
The trunk sat gathering dust in the attic through WWII, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm and all the current skirmishes. I'd passed it many times as I picked up or deposited items in the attic for my Grandmother and finally my Mother. It was less interesting than most of the items hiding amidst the gossamer silk decorating the attic. Imagine my surprise when my daughter and I opened it while clearing away the debris left by my mother's passing. Relics of the past. Photos from the Civil War nestled beside medals identified as belonging to the Spanish American War and awarded to ancestors whose names I recalled but of whom I'd never been interested enough to listen to the stories being told about them.
During the dusty afternoon as we pawed our way through generations of our family's history my daughter and I earned a new appreciation of what had come before. Letters home told of the horrors of many wars. Families torn apart and loved ones lost. The uniforms from early wars hung appropriately in the trunk, protected for the many years. Opening a drawer I encountered a tortoise shell toothbrush gently reposed on an aged linen handkerchief that bore the initials of my Great Great Grandfather. His tour of duty had been the Spanish American War and his uniform, complete with medals, hung honorably amongst the others. Beneath the linen handkerchief I found a yellowed letter written to my Great Great Grandmother offering condolences for the loss of her husband. Suddenly this relic, his toothbrush, took on a deeper meaning. Why do wars continue to be fought? Why should loved ones be lost? How can the madness be stopped? I had no answers as I quietly closed the trunk and wiped my tears. I could only pray that my Grandson, serving in Afghanistan, would not join the history displayed in this dusty trunk.
C Hummel Kornell