My maternal grandfather, Carroll Dana Fearon, was an ambulance driver in Italy during the First World War, serving in the United States Army Ambulance Service. He was in basically the same outfit as Ernest Hemingway, in a conflict that started 100 years and 3 months ago.
Grandpa was deaf. I think, though I’m not positive, that he lost much of hearing during the war. For all of the time I knew him, he used a hearing aid that worked reasonably well, and I don’t think he ever learned Sign Language. However, his hearing loss was noticeable to others, and I’m sure that while he was a highly functional and successful businessman, being deaf was something he had to consciously grapple with every day.
Grandpa Fearon died 1987, when I was 20 years old. I wish we had overlapped a few more years, so that I could have talked with him more about his war experiences and how he felt about his own disability. I bet he could have told some stories about the disabilities he saw imposed in such massive quantities by a modern, mechanized war fought with strategies that were already out of date in the Civil War.
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