This I Believe

Ryan - Mesa, Arizona
Entered on May 22, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: family, respect
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I believe in… Perseverance

Ever since I was a little boy, I have always wanted to be in the army. I have read many books about the army but I have never known a real veteran. That is, until the year 2003. Five years ago, my grandpa came to live with us. Before this time, I had always known him a strong, healthy man. But he was now humped over with an IV in his arm and a walker. It almost crushed me to see one of my heroes broken by old age. When it came to write a report, I decided to have a real long talk with him because he was a veteran of WWII. As I came to know him better, I could not believe all that he has gone through. For example, he told me one of his worst experiences of the war. In his wheezing voice, he said

“So, son, you want to hear about the war?”

“Yes. Actually, what was one of your most memorable moments?”

“It was when I almost drowned.”

“Really? Tell me the whole story!”

“To get to another outpost, we had to cross the Atlantic ocean. We were going to go by plane. About half-way through the trip, the pilot informed us that he had gotten lost and we were not going to make it because we didn’t have enough fuel. We all braced for the impact. We landed safely in the water and blew up the rafts. The plane was carrying wounded so we first put all of them on the rafts. They didn’t have enough room so I had to swim. The only problem is that I can’t swim. Son, there were many times that I could have just given up. In the freezing waters of the Atlantic, that was what I wanted to do. But I never gave up. Never. Just remember that son.”

After those stories, I came to realize that I had judged him completely wrong. He was not broken with old age. He could have given up yet he still struggles to walk, to work, to eat. He hates his IV and always attended dinner with us, which was always a challenge to him. In 2005, he finally let go of the world. At his funeral, I thought of him and his amazing perseverance. Because of him, I know that I can not ever just give up. As Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”