What My Grandfather Taught Me

How the Greatest Generation can guide us through this.

Ryan Redmond
4 min readFeb 26, 2022


Photo by Museums Victoria on Unsplash

I often think of my grandfather.

He died several years ago, but I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with him.

There were many summers in which I would travel to Hawaii, where he lived, and spend weeks helping him out. I would cook, clean, run errands, and go to the best places for lunch on the island of Hawaii. Main landers call it the Big Island.

He then moved to Florida in his last years, to be near family. And before I started college in Orlando at Full Sail, I spent that summer with him again.

As someone who wanted to be a writer and filmmaker, I was fascinated with history, specifically the World War Two era. My grandfather was someone I wanted to interview, to learn about what he lived through.

He served in the United States Navy during the war. He was a part of the Greatest Generation.

Yet, no one in my family could really tell me about what he went through. And I wanted to ask him myself.

My grandpa was a reserved man. He was quiet, polite, and respectful. He wasn’t the most social person, and he never wanted the spotlight on him.

However, if you could get grandpa talking, well he’d talk your ear off.

As a writer, I wanted to know about his story. I thought it could make a great movie or book one day. Something to tell the world or maybe just my family. I felt we needed to know more about that time. And as more of his generation was passing on, I felt it was necessary to know.

In one of the last summers I spent with him, I would lure him with a glass of wine in the afternoon before I’d make us dinner, and I would grab my notebook and ask if he could answer some questions about his time during the war.

Grandpa would insist I’d share the wine with him (thus beginning my long love of wine), and even though he was a reserved man, a few questions in and he was rambling on about everything I wanted to know.

One question I always remember asking him that sticks with me to this day was, “Why did you enlist?”