Like the novel, this blog is a work-in-progress. It will feature research notes, book reviews, best-of-the-web reblogs about the First World War, and progress updates about its namesake novel.
My French great-grandfathers and Polish grandfather were still fairly recent immigrants to the United States by the time war broke out, and although they had to register with the draft board, they didn’t serve, but the man who later became my Irish step-grandfather did. Grampa was born in Chicago of Irish immigrant parents on Dec. 24, 1894. His draft registration is dated June 12, 1917. I know nothing about his service, but this photo survives.
About two years after my Polish grandfather died, Grampa married Gramma. He was an excellent stepfather to my mother and her siblings, and was my favorite grandfather. He died when I was in kindergarten. The Passions of Patriots is not by any stretch of the imagination “his” story, but he is my connection to the Great War, and I plan to dedicate the book to his memory.
Like his fellow doughboy veterans, Grampa received the Victory Medal when it was issued in 1921. The medal had a beautiful rainbow-colored ribbon when it was new, but that had disappeared by the time I appeared on the scene. When I was a kid, sometimes my mother would let me put the heavy medallion on a string and wear it as a pendant. It lives in my fire safe, now. It’s difficult to find good, detailed images of the decoration, especially of the reverse (which I think is the more interesting side), so until I can get Grampa’s medal scanned, these will have to do.