In researching this project, I was shocked at the lack of information on this soldier. Beyond Gray's Individual Deceased Personnel Files, not much is available beyond census and grave records. From the information found in his military records, serial number, and his grave, his story can be pieced together, however, much of it is still unknown. Little can be found about his early life or even his individual actions in France, though the movements and actions of his unit are known. Despite this, it is clear that Gray was involved in intense and important struggles in France and his death helped directly pave the way for freedom in Europe. This project gave me a more profound understanding of the lives of soldiers in WWII. Normally, I hear about the lives of generals or leaders, but seeing the everyday life of normal soldiers showed me how exhausting the war must have been for those involved. I wish that I could ask Gray what he thought of the war -- what were his personal motivations, his reasons to fight? Why did he enlist in the National Guard? The answers to these questions haunt our understanding of Gray's life. Despite this, an idea of who he was can be pieced together from his grave, perhaps the most important source in this project. It led me to Gray's unit, thus providing me with important information about Gray's probable actions during the war. Seeing his complete devotion and the impacts wrought by his death have redefined gratitude for me as they mold my understanding of the word to encompass gratitude for living. I am grateful for the chance at life Gray's death afforded me and countless others and they set me on the path to make something great of this life rather than squander this chance I have been given.
We Will by Robert Quick
"Remember? Yes, we will remember them,
We who have watched them go down with the sun.
And in the morning, seeing them gone
We will cease remembering and live.
As they would have lived
And longed to lay to rest at last
The sheer bloody waste of it all.
Yes, they would want to forget.
Yet even that is denied them,
Those who survived them
Bear witness to that,
Who cannot forget.
Sure, they remember the good times:
The scrapes they got into, the japes they got up to;
Which nevertheless came down to
The same thing in the end.
They lost a friend.
Whose memories hold
A face as it was then: young, bold.
Truly, they will not grow old.
Not then, not now, not never.
How can we ever then honour their lives
Weary, but unsurprised that
The brave new world was lies;
Should we not just trouble their rest,
Seeing the rubble we built was at best
But we will.
We who the years condemn.
Unable to comprehend
We that are left will
Stand silenced by silence.
Unworthy to demand
And still in that silence we will find something
Worthy of repetition,
Worth our recalling
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning."
Wilbert Gray, you are remembered.