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MRIC Global Essay Contest: My Grandpa’s Medal

Author:Min-Sun Song (Sunny Song)

When I think of my grandpa, a certain scenery and smell first comes to my mind. A white wall and hallway in hospital’s ward and a smell of disinfectant spread lightly in there. In the midst of that moment, I used to be a naïve and excited child. The place was my playground, whether other people were sick or not. I used to p lay top-spinning game in the hallway all day long whenever I visited my grandpa. Also, it was the place where I met his last moments. Maybe that is the reason why I feel like I’m going on a picnic and also feel sorrow at the same time when I visit that hospital ward.

My grandpa was a colonel in ROK Army for several decades. He participated in the Korean War and had received more than 10 medals from government before he left the army. In the cabinet of his study, there were a number of medals and badges that he had been awarded while he was a soldier. The Order of Military Merit Taegeuk, Eulji, Chungmu, and Hwarang. Those were brilliantly shining and fascinating. To me as a child, the shiny medals and badges seemed like ‘Saylor Moon’ broches or ‘Pocket Monster Gymnasium’ badges.

Grandpa suffered from a quadriplegic for three years after having a stroke when I was eight years old. At first, he just couldn’t walk normally, but as time went on, his conditions worsened and finally he wasn’t able to speak at all. In my young mind, I didn’t like my grandpa as his conditions worsened. I didn’t recognize him when he drooled at his mouth when he is supposed to be the head of my family. There was something unnatural and awkward about the appearance of grandpa that I wanted to avoid and hide. When he sat next to me at dinner, I slipped away. Grandpa obviously knew I was ignoring him and trying to avoid him. But he didn’t express his sorrow at