When my grandfather returned from World War II, he became very active in local Veteran’s groups. For more than sixty years, he participated in the honor guard at the funeral services of Veterans in his rural, Nebraska town. There was a twenty-one gun salute at his funeral this past spring, performed by the men whom he had the honor to command for many of those sixty years.
Local tradition dictates that the flag that draped his casket be given to the VFW, who displays the burial flags of the local Veterans on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day each year. After it was presented to my Grandmother at his funeral, she entrusted it to them. I requested that a flag be flown over the US Capitol Building in his memory on November 11th this year – although I visited my Grandmother for Thanksgiving this year, the flag arrived too late for me to build the memorial display for it and give it to her.
Since all of her grandchildren were present at Thanksgiving, my Grandmother asked us to go through his workshop to select any tools or mementos that we would like to keep. I was fortunate to get many of his older handtools – I’m the only woodworker amongst my cousins – the eggbeater drill about which I have previously written, some chisels and auger bits, a folding carpenter’s rule, a marking gauge, several handplanes, and an old yankee screwdriver set amongst others.
In the box with the yankee screwdriver, I found two small letter punches; the letters C and Y. I knew that some of these tools had probably belonged to my Great-Grandfather, Clark Yates. Finding these punches – along with several tools stamped with his initials – appears to confirm that belief.
I plan to restore and use many of the tools that are only a small part of the woodworking legacy that has been passed down to me. I never knew this Great-Grandfather, but I’m sure his son would feel honored that I’m continuing his avocation.