Sometimes, it turns out, the anonymous denizens of the Internet can be really kind. Redditor jmcdonell wanted to do something nice for his 88-year-old grandmother whose brother died in France after the D-Day invasion, but his simple online request for someone to help him photograph the gravestone yielded much more than he expected from helpful French and American expatriate strangers.
Jmcdonell posted the request in the France subreddit, where he also mentioned that he didn't know much about the war experience of his great-uncle, Pvt. Waldemar Knoll, because his grandmother always found the topic of her brother too emotional to discuss.
His primary request, for a picture of the gravestone, was answered almost immediately (picture below):
Already, jmcdonell's mission could be considered a success: proof that his great-uncle's memory was being honored with a beautiful gravestone in one of France's well-maintained national cemeteries for American servicemen. But that was not to be the final chapter, as an American living abroad dug deeper and found the battle history of Waldemar's unit, as well as some moving photos related to his part in the invasion.
The photos Arthur233 found are below, but he also found more to the story of Pvt. Knoll's role in the Normandy invasion. The helpful ex-pat explained that this is a hobby for him, and that he finds a lot of meaning in the memorials to the war dead in France.
Another user found his great-uncle's obituary in the local paper:
Here are some of the photos from Arthur233's findings. The "direct photo" is the grave mentioned above, but here is the aerial shot of the cemetery, showing what a beautiful space France created for the fallen soldiers of their allies.
More poignantly, he found images of Waldemar's division in the Normandy invasion, as well as images of the defenses they were up against and a map of the region liberated by the men Pvt. Knoll fought alongside.
Obviously, jmcdonell was very grateful, but everyone who happened upon the story was very moved, as well. Even though WWII is passing from living memory, the bonds between the world's first two revolutionary democracies remains strong.
Anyway, especially in an election year it can be a really nasty America, Internet, and world out there. This is one small reminder that the world could still get a lot nastier—but it can also, right now, be a lot kinder than we think.