This Thursday, September 15, 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of the death of my maternal Great Grandfather, Norman Ross Crosby, during the Battle of the Somme in France.
I had hoped to be in France on the battlefield where my Great Grandfather gave his life for our freedom, but with the current situation in France, I thought it best to postpone my next visit.
My Great Grandfather had volunteered to fight for our country, leaving behind his wife and children. My Grandmother was one of those children, and through her his memory was kept alive in her children and in her grandchildren. My Great Grandfather was only 26 when he arrived in France in 1915, and almost a year to the day that he arrived, at age 27, he was killed by a German shell referred to as a "whizz-bang" due to the sound it made.
Since starting my family research, I have found dozens of examples of brave relatives who fought and died in many of our wars, but none are as personal to me as the sacrifice my Great Grandfather made.
A few years ago I stood on the battlefields of WWI in France. It was a surreal experience - the French countryside was quiet, serene and beautiful, but the knowledge of the death and destruction that had taken place where I stood was surreal. I cannot imagine the horrors that my Great Grandfather and millions of others saw 100 years ago on the same spot. Seeing first hand the thousands of grave markers of the brave young men that gave their lives to ensure our freedom, I can only hope that future generations will understand their sacrifice and never forget.