11 November 2009

He was called "Robbie"...

...by his friends, of which he had many. Some of whom he left behind in the South Pacific in the 1940s.

My great-uncle was born 100 years ago today. It is a pleasure and an honor to remember him and his commitment to God, family, and country. He captured the joy of life as fully as anyone I have ever known - until my sons were born and he told me: "Those are a couple of pretty happy little guys!" Good genes, I replied.

Here he is, on the right, at the WWII memorial in Washington, D.C. less than a year before his death:

Aug 18, 2004- Glenn Robinson (right) stands by the Ohio Pillar at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. Robinson, a Findlay, Ohio resident, was stationed overseas in New Guinea during the war.
When I saw the photo, and listened to him recount the journey to the site, I told him: "How wonderful!... But that's a pretty serious expression for you." He replied in his booming bass voice: "Well, now, it was a pretty serious thing."

My great-uncle loved to sing, and always told jokes. But I will never forget that he didn't shy away from my questions about the war, answering them thoughtfully and thoroughly. And always finishing with a recitation of the poem he loved, Rudyard Kipling's "If":

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

Thanks for remembering today; blog you again soon.

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