Jack Ginther was born December 15th 1918 in Galien Michigan. He died February 22nd 2008. These are the dates that bookend his life but who was he to me? As a child he was the fun grandfather who always bought me a gift and wrestled me on the floor of the family room. As a kid leaving college he was the proud grandfather excited to see me start my career at an investment firm after graduation. I know he was a human and therefore far more complicated but those two thoughts are the anchors of the memories of my relationship with him.
He never talked about the war. Not really. As a kid he gave me a razor without a blade and we stood in front of the bathroom mirror to shave. Later in life when I stopped shaving he said he couldn't trust a man who's face he couldn't see. We stood in front of that mirror, bellies out and chins covered in shaving cream. My shirtless grandfather had a scar across his abdomen. At first, it was the remnants of a wound given to him from a duel with Darth Vader. When I realized Darth Vader wasn't real it turned into the traces left from a knife wound from a German during the war. Later I was told it was from a childhood surgery.
That knife wound was the most exciting story he ever shared about the war, even though it wasn't true. When he described the war later in life he described moving from one city to another without any excitement. I asked him if he ever wanted to go back to France. He said, no, it was an ugly country. I asked him if he wanted to see Saving Private Ryan when it came out. He responded, no, why would he want to watch anything about the war. Every response to every question was dry. He was never emotional when he discussed it. He never brought up being scared or happy about the bonds with his fellow soldiers. The only anger I ever saw was when someone brought up general Patton. He hated Patton.
While he provided little detail to me, some part of him must have wanted me to know more. He provided me with a trove of documents and objects allowing me to do my own research. I've never been to war and I hope I never have to experience it. But, I want to know more about this brief but important part of Jack Ginther's life.