"There are two chief reasons why a soldier feels fear: first, that he will not get home to see his loved ones again; but, most of all, picturing himself in the same position as some of the dead men we see. They lay there face up, usually in the rain, their eyes open, their faces pale and chalk-like, their gold teeth showing. I remember hundreds and hundreds of dead men. I would know them now if I were to meet them in the hereafter."
I wonder if he felt this fear as he charged. I wonder if he only single-mindedly saw the machine gun, trying to get it before it got him, as he was shot. I wonder if he felt relief and joy that the War was over as he lie recovering from his mustard gas infected leg. I wonder what his last thoughts were as he slipped away and was laid to rest as little French girls decorated his grave with flowers festooned with red, white and blue ribbons - just three weeks after the Armistice.
World War I had such a devastating effect on Europe, that today different countries mark its remembrance in different ways. In England, who lost over 700,000 sons, in November you still see everyone from newscasters to soccer coaches to everyday people wearing blood red paper poppies, a reference to John McRae's poem "In Flanders Field" to honor this loss.
In Poland it is a holiday of celebration as it marks the rebirth of a nation which had ceased to exist for more than a century of rule by Russia, Austria-Hungary and Prussia. It is a Polish version of the 4th of July with parades and fireworks.
I hope and wish Adam knew the role he played in this celebration of the place of his parents' birth - that he felt that he had contributed something and his life was not wasted - and that I am the first of my family to visit his grave in Countrexville, Vosges, France and tell him myself.