“On August 3, 1918, Major Harvey was transferred to the 103rd Field Artillery, and assigned to the second battery. With this battery he went into position September llth, participating in St. Mihiel offensive, September 12th, on which day he was instantly killed by a hostile shell while making a reconnaissance of territory from which the enemy had been driven.” From For What They Gave on Saturday Afternoon
Major Harry Aloysius Harvey was my grandfather. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1915, in the class that is known as The Class the Stars Fell On. There, he hung out with Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, the men who later distinguished themselves in service to our country and with the men who also died on the battlefield.
On Memorial Day, I honor my grandfather, and cry at his grave, hoping that he is proud of the woman I have become. Hoping that he has watched the life and the career that his son had at West Point, in the Army and later in the Air Force. Hoping that he has looked down from heaven and watched the lives of my brothers, my children and now grandchildren. That he is enjoying the legacy that began with his birth on January 9, 1890.
I can’t help wondering how our family would have changed had he lived. I’m sure that my father would still have followed in his footsteps and graduated from West Point in the class of 1941. Would my grandparents have had more children? Would I have had more aunts and uncles? Would I have played with more cousins?
While understanding the tragedy of this loss, and the sadness that I feel that I didn’t have him as a grandfather to hug and with whom I could share my happiness and problems, I realize that I also would be missing a whole branch of my family tree.
My grandmother, Ethel Canavan Harvey, remarried about 5 years after my grandfather was KIA. Her husband was a wonderful grandfather. It was years before I made the connection that I wasn’t biologically connected to him. And through this marriage, my father had two brothers he loved and respected. And the next generation gave me cousins who I can’t imagine not having in my life. And now a next generation of family for my children to be a part of.
It is impossible to be more proud of my grandfather, Major Harry Aloysius Harvey. I honor him, give thanks to, and for him. For his life that he put on enemy lines, and the sacrifices that he made. For the life that he gave for the United States of America. And I love him on this Memorial Day, as I do every day.
September 12, 1918. The day my family changed forever.