Sharing his story in 2010 and again today

Over Christmas break, our family and some friends were out to dinner to celebrate my mom’s birthday. I had the privilege of meeting an older gentleman who introduced himself as “Uncle Al.” Showing genuine kindness and interest, he began to ask me about my experience as a college student in the far off Lexington, Kentucky.

I asked Uncle Al if he was from Tiffin, the town in Ohio where we live. He answered with a wink, saying he had only lived here for 84 years. He then shared his story of serving in the armed forces during World War II. His recollection of this tumultuous time: traveling overseas, the excitement of being home on leave, his nervousness of being re-assigned to invade Japan and, finally, his relief at the end of the war was moving. I could feel the love and pride in his voice as he spoke of what it meant to serve his country and how he treasured being back home. Through this short conversation, I realized Uncle Al had given me something invaluable — his story.

Everyone today has a last-chance opportunity to cherish stories from friends, relatives and those we have just met. Through the story of my grandpa serving in the Navy, learning more about my dad’s time in the Army and more recently hearing about my friend Brian in the Air Force, I realize such relationships are special. Their stories are inspiring, and remind us of freedom, dedication and sacrifice. I encourage everyone to take the time to learn from the heroes of yesterday and today, and to pass their stories along.

Albert H. Fingerhuth, aka Uncle Al, left this earth Monday. With a wink, he would say, “I only lived here in Tiffin for 91 years!”

Anna L. (Hays) Taul,

Indianapolis, Indiana