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Reader Brent writes:

I’ve noticed an aversion by some readers of TTAG to Facebook and other social media. This seems counter productive to me. Whether we like it or not, we’re all going to die one day. Eventually, the next generation will take over and they use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media outlets. Avoid those outlets and we avoid the very individuals we need to reach. These outlets may not be as good conversing over a coffee, or taking someone to the range, but they provide the next best thing – they give every user the ability to highlight something personal. They humanize, putting things in a personal context. That includes firearms . . .

Following is a post I wrote on Facebook about my father. The point is that in addition to getting folks to the range, we need to use every outlet available to us to humanize guns. As long as politicians can point to the big, bad NRA (and other straw men), they will be able to demonize firearms. However, when your friends and neighbors know you to be a reasonable person who owns guns, the straw man argument is harder to sell. Here’s the post:

About a year before my Dad passed away, we were in the Kittery Trading Post and spotted a Colt Model 1911A1. For those who aren’t familiar with it, the 1911 was the standard issue sidearm for the U.S. military for more than 75 years. My Dad had carried one when he was in the army.

At $2,400 it was out of my price range and even farther outside his, but neither one of us expected to buy it. He didn’t say it, but I knew that Dad would appreciate getting a closer look and holding it.

I asked the clerk if we could look at it, and he pulled the pistol from the case and handed it to me. I handed it to my Dad and his eyes welled up as he explained to the clerk that he’d carried one during his years in the Army, “You’ve made an old man very happy.”

Back in the day, Dad was a marksman with small arms, and while the feel of the 1911 was clearly familiar to the veteran, the heft was a surprise to the old man who’s strength had long since departed. He held it for but a minute or so before we handed it back to the clerk.

Fast forward…

A local gun shop had this 1911 under the glass. It had had one owner, a vet who was liquidating his collection. Previously, I had no desire to own a 1911, but there’s a part of us which seeks connections to the ones we’ve lost.

And so I purchased it – the day before Father’s Day – in memory of Dad.

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41 Responses to Would a Vet Be This Nostalgic Over a Hand Grenade?

  1. My father has some of the same nostalgia for the M1 Garand.

    I didn’t wait; I bought one for him while he could still enjoy it.

    The last time we traveled out to visit, each of my 3 kids got the opportunity to fire it. I was worried it would be a bit much for them (all three are 14 or younger), but they enjoyed it more than I thought they would – and the experience created yet one more connection between the generations. Another way for them to remember in years to come…

  2. Dude, Facebook isn’t cool anymore. Now that everyone’s mom is on it the teens don’t go there as much anymore. This too will pass…

    Source: Me, I work with high school age kids and none of them are on FB. I have to text them if I want a response.

    • Fair enough, but Facebook was originally for college kids, then opened up to adults, then teens. It may pass eventually, but it’s here now. And it’s the moms who vote. I’m more concerned about converting the 25-50 y/o age group then the kid’s who are playing CoD.

  3. I’ve started taking range videos and pictures and posting them to YouTube, G+ and facebook. YouTube is still big but I do think Facebook is going to end up like MySpace.

    The story about your father and the 1911 was great. It is unfortunate that they are so dang expensive. I’ve stuck to mostly milsurp rifles due to the crazy prices until last week when I snagged a Colt M1917. It drew a lot of attention at the range and was fun to shoot. Someday I will find a USGI 1911 to add to the collection.

  4. Facebook SPIES and brags they know what your next purchase is going to be, before you do.

    And remind me again why I want to be on a social media whose top dog publicly calls his users “a bunch of dumb f*ckers”?

  5. In answer to Dan’s question posed in the title. No we are not nostalgic over the fickle wh0re known as a hand grenade because once you pull the pin miss grenade is a mouth frothing rabid bitch just itching to go off on someone… much like most women in MDA ans guys from the Brady campaign.

  6. Connections, past, present and future. Totems, the medicine bag, the heritage, the continuum and the tradition. I hope to instill in my daughter that sense of perspective, spirit and history. Seeking peace but a warrior at heart.

  7. My dad crossed Europe as a combat engineer. Aside from a shovel, he was usually armed with an M-1 carbine, and he passed some of his affection for that poor, maligned, little gun on to me.

    On the subject of utilizing social media. I’m working at the edge of my computer skills just to comment here, and at my age I’ve got better things to do than try to learn to navigate some new incomprehensible electro-cyber abomination every day.

    You can take an unwilling, illiterate, barefoot peasant conscript who speaks some language even Wikapedia hasn’t heard of and teach him how to operate and maintain an AK-47 in ten minutes. Now, THAT’S “user friendly”, unlike computers that make no sense to start with and change their operating systems with the weather.

  8. Great article, Brent. Thanks for sharing it. Getting a connection between the generations – and then nurturing it – is becoming even more important. On Saturday, my good friend worked a college football game (he’s a firefighter-paramedic) and got to shake the hand of one of the only 37 remaining survivors of the Indianapolis. They are all passing too quickly.

    On a personal note, I am currently restoring a Marlin 42B 22LR that belonged to my wife’s great grandfather. My mother-in-law remembers as a child him walking into the house with a couple of rabbits and the rifle tucked under his arm. Interestingly enough, my daughter who is 23 has now claimed the rifle as her own. I like that she – through it – is connecting to people even though they passed long ago.

    Still so many connections that can be made. Maybe I better get busy (grin). Thanks again for your article.

  9. Great story to go with Veterans Day.
    I’d have to buy a battleship with at least 16 inch guns to match that.
    To hear my dad tell stories from Korea and Vietnam firing those big guns from 15-20 miles out… Wow.

  10. My father was a veteran of WW2 and Korea. Serving first in the Big Red 1, he was captured during the Battle of the Bulge. After liberation he joined the 11th airborne in the pacific theater. He went on to the 505 PIR and the 82nd. He finished a very decorated Master Sergeant. On my 30th birthday he gave me his nickel plated 1911 and its belt and holster. I treasure this. He is gone now, but the memory of visiting Camp Perry with him is fresh.

    • He ain’t gone, dude. He’s grinning every time you put on that holster.

      I’ve got a little more unusual one, and it involves my mom,of all people. My grandad passed away when I was 13, and while I was just starting to enjoy his love of cars with him, we didn’t get enough time to enjoy his guns, other than I do distinctly remember him taking a little .22 Blackhawk camping all the time. My Mom, on the other hand, was never exactly anti-2a- in fact, she often said things like “I’d never want one, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t have the right”- but she never had a strong interest, and maybe a little fear of guns. So, obviously, she didn’t get to shoot with my grandad and uncle. My uncle shared some of the passion for shooting, but certainly not the nostalgic value, and maybe not much sense, either- when my grandad died, he sold off most of his stuff, including most of his guns.
      Well, about 6 years ago, I finally broke my mom into shooting, and turned out she loves it. Of course, being a novice, she had a hell of a time at first finding something that she could shoot well, and as anybody here well knows, you need that instant feedback of hitting at least close to what you aim at, especially at first, otherwise you might get frustrated and walk away.
      Luckily, my uncle had a little more sense than I gave him credit for: he managed to hold on to that Blackhawk, and then gave it to my mom. I think this might have truly been the turning point for her; she had no trouble at all with the .22 revolver and it built instant confidence, but even more important, she got a chance to make up for a little of what she missed.
      These days, she’s all about her several Ruger GP100s, but if there’s .22 around, she’ll always bring out her dad’s revolver for a couple dozen.

  11. Different vets have different reactions to war. My father-in-law, who passed this past September, was a member of the Rainbow Brigade, joining the fighting right after the Battle of the Bulge. His unit was at Dachau for a short period after the liberation of the camp. After the war ended he was an MP in Germany until his unit was relieved and sent home. He never touched a firearm again, and never related his war experiences to his children.

  12. If people want to join Facebook, that’s their decision. I. however, choose to pass. You know how it is that you buy a software program, but you don’t really own it, you just license its use? Facebook is just the opposite–although it promises privacy, if you post it, Facebook says that image or content belongs to them. They give you privacy settings–and then change the rules so that that which was once private is now unprotected. To hell with that. The erosions of personal privacy in today’s society are bad enough without volunteering to be raped.

    • Use FB for what is was meant – to share information. The privacy sucks, but privacy isn’t the point. Sharing is. I post many TTAG articles to FB. Many of my 25-40 year old friends still use it.

  13. That’s a great post Brent

    There is something really cool about GI 1911’s. Every time I handle one I always wonder where it’s been, and the stories it could tell.

  14. I’m growing older, well out side of cool. I teared up a bit at the article because it touched me in various ways. That melancholy feeling persists though my own father, veteran of two wars and recipient of the bronze star still lives. It makes me a little sad that we passed this veterans day and I didn’t even call him, but you know, he wouldn’t have cared that it was veterans day and would have dismissed any acclaim I offered him out of hand. I wish we could share a love of the 1911 but he has never shown anything but a passing regard for any tool of war. He does not carry and does not even own a gun. It’s not that he is in some sort of backlash against such things or that they engender bad memories for him, it’s rather that he’s never cared much for guns and still doesn’t. He’s pro 2a and pro carry but he just isn’t interested personally. He seems amused by my ardent convictions about carry and the 2a. Some of the old soldiers can be hard to read. I wish them all well though, and decline from plumbing their reasons.

    • Our feelings for the tools of war is a curious mix in most cases. A love/hate sort of thing. I had a brief time when I came home that I wanted nothing to do with guns. But I was deeply pissed when my ka bar was stolen. I swore off hunting also.

      Except for a little unease with anything resembling an m16/AR I’ve put aside my bad feelings about guns and would carry one dailey were it legal to do so.

      As for hunting. I’ve even begun to work out my anxiety for that because of my oldest sons growing interest and enthusiam for it. I’m old enough to know not to say never. Time has a way of changing things.

  15. My grandpa had sold his 1911 before I came along, but he’s the one who taught me to hunt, shoot, and love and respect guns. He was a bit younger, but joined up as soon as he was able. He was in training in Guam when the war ended. When I bought my 1911 last year, I took it out and showed him. His eyes got that far away look when he held it, and I know he was thinking about some of his close friends and cousins who got there before he did and never returned. Freedom runs deep in our family.

  16. My great uncle was a veteran of WW1. When ever anyone asked him about his time in the Marines, he would rebuff them.
    When his brother, my grandfather died, my eldest nephew was in the Corps and attended in his dress uniform. At the luncheon after, uncle Rudy walked up to us, and commented about the uniform. he then pulled up a chair and began to share about his time in the trenches. he told of his two wounds, one at Mont Blanc Ridge, the forgotten battle and the other I don’t remember where. Both came from artillery. He was a machine gunner.
    As he shared, his children and grand children gathered round and began to take notes. The connection from an old Marine to a new one loosened the tongue, and a wealth of history passed on to a new generation that day. He had it rough, he was a hero. He and his assistant gunner were the first men from his unit wounded in the forgotten battle, and the only survivors from his element. Not sure if it was his platoon, or company, but to a man they perished there in France.
    At the time, he was the oldest living Marine in Minnesota. A great and humble man.
    I think about him every veterans day. I want to be like him if I ever grow up.

  17. I yearn to build/buy an SP1 type AR its not HSLD (high speed low drag) but its probably the first and only firearm my grandfather shot during his time in the Air Force, I want to take him shooting because who doesn’t want to take people shooting.

    Second note: FB I use it I’m 24 so i’m on there a bit, I try and post,like, or comment on firearms related topics. I’m 50-50 about FB since anyone can see what i have on there i try not to post pictures of an “arsenal” but it is nice to post pictures of attractive young women who I’ve shown the range to. then they post them with some ridiculous tag like #gungirl

  18. I come from a family that Has a military background 2 Grand uncles died in WW!,
    Dad was in The Seabees , uncle in the army, Uncle-in the Army Rangers and an Uncle was a medic WWII, and more as far back as the Revolution! my self I am a Veteran of Vietnam, It is funny nobody would say a thing about the wars until I came back from Nam! A transformation would place the minute you handed them a weapon from their era. especially if that weapon had a significance other than having too carry that damned thing everyday! most of them rejected the ownership of weapons for a number of years, about 8-9 years out of the Service my oldest daughter wanted too Deer hunt and I did not have a weapon in the house needless to say I borrowed a rifle, and it was through handling that 742 30/06, My Rifle and me have a long history and when i turned it in I felt empty , lost spurned like a jilted lover! them i got mad at it for abandoning me and didn’t want to form another relationship! when I showed my daughter how to use that rifle, how to clean it, etc; a small feeling of Joy came back and has not been lost again, when I brought a M1 Garand, a carbine and a .45 out for show and tell their eyes lit up and stories started flowing of course more than a little Kick-a-poo Joy juice was involved, own an AR-15, but it is the least favorite of my three guns. Semper -Fi too my Jar-head buddies, and Fair winds and following Sea’s to my Swabby Buds,

  19. I just asked my brother the other day if his 1911 was issued to him, he was stationed in Germany just before the Berlin wall went up.
    He just laughed guiltily and said “No, I bought it from a Sad Sack GI that had a bad gambling night and needed $20 to make it to next pay day.”
    So he just brought it back to the states in his kit.
    Back then, they must have trusted soldiers to have guns
    Times have changed.

  20. Please forgive this late reply, but this talk of firearm nostalgia has me a bit misty eyed. My own family has a long tradition of military service going back for centuries in both the Kingdom of Bavaria, and the days of the Holy Roman Empire. My grandfather was a veteran of WWI and flew for the Kaiser. (I suppose from some points of view he fought for the wrong side, but at the time he thought he was defending his country.) He left me two beautiful pistols, a Borchardt Mdl C-93, (which was the forunner of the Luger) that he carried in the cockpit with him, and an Mauser Mdl C-96 artillery model. The second weapon belonged to his brother, an officer in a trench-raiding or a Sturmtruppen unit. (Not to be confused with the WWII version who would’ve gleefully shot my great-uncle in the street.) It had a longer barrel and a magazine capacity of 20 rounds, a great advantage in trench-raiding when the opportunity was very limited. (Both of these weapons are chambered for 7.63 Mauser, although I was told to use a reduced powder charge for the Borchardt, as it was too delicate to fire the more powerful Mauser round.) My grandfather used to tell me of his time in WWI and WWII (when he was in the USAAC, and flew C-46’s), and I grew up hearing about both Dawn Patrol over the Western Front in WWI and carrying supplies over the Burma Hump in WWII. About the five of his six brothers he lost in WWI, the close friends he lost in WWII and Korea, and the son, (my father) he lost in Vietnam. His eyes would light up as he spoke and I could actually see the places he’d been in my mind’s eye. He never spoke of the glory of war, and considered it the end result of a grand foul-up on both sides. Instead, he would focus on the camaraderie that develops between people placed in harsh situations, and fully believed that if more national leaders and politicians experienced the horrors of war first hand, they would be a lot less inclined to start a war. After he passed away his pistols and other memorabilia passed to me. Every time I took them out, I could see those places again, and remembered how much I missed him. I wanted to pass those pistols down to my son, but my apartment was broken into while I was overseas (I’m retired Navy) and nearly everything of value was taken. Do you think that thief realized just how much of my family history he was stealing? Although the weapons were valuable in terms of monetary cost, they were priceless in sentimental value.

  21. Yeah.
    I’ve got a 1911 from “The Great War”, which my Dad found on a pile of captured German weapons in the fields of France, 1917. He carried it through the rest of his time “over there”, and brought it home. I fired it when I won my bronze Distinguished Pistol Medal, and I will pass it on to my nephew, who is a namesake of his grandfather.

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