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Inspiration, War Veteran, Hero: My Grandpa

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I remember as a young child going to my grandfather’s house every winter. Walking up to his tiny house in the bitter cold, I would always think about what it would be like to live my grandpa’s life. He lives alone now, spending most of his time watching golf and baseball in a reclining chair. His tall 6 foot 3 inch frame is withering away now and his pure white hair is long past its prime. He has a lot to reflect upon, though. He has survived a rough childhood, went to World War II, gone through the death of his wife, and supported four kids all by myself. That is why Lou Mashura is my hero. He has gone through some of the hardest obstacles anyone can go through and he is still a great person today.

The tough life of my grandpa started at an early age. At the age of four, him and his family packed up their stuff and left the Czech of Republic and went west to America. This was hard on the whole family because all of their ancestors had lived there for numerous years and it felt like home. Luckily for him though, he moved to the town of Whiting, Indiana which was populated by many other Czechs. Even though my grandpa and five others lived in an undersized apartment building with no extra money to spare, he would make the best out of everything like he would do for the rest of his life. Lou would constantly be outdoors because he would not be able to pay for anything else to do. From playing many sports with his friends or going to Lake Michigan to swim with his three other brothers, he would always find something active to do. He finally thought he was getting through the transition to America well until his mother died. This was the first of many tragedies and hardships my grandfather had, but I admire him because he never gave up during these hard times.
Then once he graduated high school, the army started drafting people to help in World War II. Sure enough, bad luck plagued my grandpa as he was chosen and was shipped off to Germany. “Life in the war was rough,” he said, “but you had to keep a good attitude and make the best out of it or else it could be a lot worse.” He would try to keep life at camp as lively as possible by playing practical jokes. His position in the army was to drive wounded soldiers back to their base camp so I would find it difficult to stay as positive as he did. “It was one of the worst jobs you could have in the army because you had to see terrible sights of people dying and bleeding all over. The worst sight was when I had to carry a wounded soldier who had lost both legs and half of his arm about fifty yards to the vehicle.” How he got through a job like that, I could only imagine. But he used his perseverance and superior attitude to serve in the war for four years and made it back home at age 22.

Only five years after returning from the war, he married his wife of 20 years named Joan. They had four children together, but it was a harsh life. Throughout their whole marriage, his wife had cancer and could not afford proper treatment to heal it. It made it worse that him and his family had to all cram into a two bedroom house and could not afford much else. My grandpa did the best he could. He “tried to make their childhood better than his” by working in a soap-making factory. Just as he was making enough to get by, his wife passed away with cancer. This was devastation to the whole family and the biggest obstacle in my grandpa’s life. They had all knew that Joan was sick for a while now, but they could not picture living without her. Lou Mashura did not give up on his family though. He worked two jobs at one time to compensate for the medical bills of his wife and even cooked the family meals. It must have taken a strong-willed, caring individual to do that.

Now almost forty years later after facing the most difficult hardships a man can face, he still lives in Whiting, Indiana. Most people are off in nursing homes by now, being taken care of by others. But my grandpa is still taking care of himself and others. I remember when I was a young child in his clustered garage looking for something to do to pass the time. My grandpa was inside watching his favorite baseball team, the Chicago Cubs, going down to the wire in the 9th inning. I was complaining to my mom that I was bored and I sulked out of the garage. My grandpa must have seen me and he came outside and said to me, “My grandson is more important than any baseball game.” He then went into the garage, got out some golf clubs, and taught me how to swing it and putt a golf ball. I still remember to this day that moment because he had gone through so much in his life and most people would say, “I’ve done enough for other people, let me do something for myself.” But Lou Mashura would take time and help you any day of the week because that is the kind of person he is.

How would you describe a hero? I depict a hero as caring, always giving their best effort, and overcoming obstacles that many people can not. All of these portray my grandpa. He has had to overcome so much in his life that it almost seemed like an amazing drama movie about how a person can overcome appalling obstacles. My grandpa has always lived by this quote by James Buckham and recites it frequently to me whenever I see him. “Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before.” This quote means if you go through any obstacle in a good spirit you will come out as better person. Lou Mashura is a prime example of this quote by going through a tough childhood, going to war, and losing loved ones along the way all while trying his best and keeping an excellent attitude.





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