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Remembering World War II Vet Edward Shaw, Who Died From COVID-19

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Over the course of the last year, we've been taking time on this show to remember some of the many people who've lost their lives to COVID-19. Nadia LaMantia heard those stories, and she wrote to us about her own grandfather, Ed Shaw, a man she says was notable for many reasons, not least of which was this.

NADIA LAMANTIA: He, for many years, looked pretty much identical to Colonel Sanders.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

She says traveling overseas, he would be stopped by locals to have his picture taken. And he had seen a lot of the world in his life having served in World War II. He was part of the U.S. Army's 89th Infantry Division, one of the first regiments to liberate a Nazi concentration camp. LaMantia says it was something her grandfather rarely brought up on his own.

LAMANTIA: Their generation didn't speak about it. He didn't dwell on it. They weren't really allowed to talk about their feelings. They witnessed what they witnessed. They did what they did during the war. And everyone had to just come back home and live their lives after as though they hadn't gone through all that and seen all that.

CHANG: Ed Shaw turned 98 last year. He was living in a nursing home. And for months, he managed to avoid the pandemic that has affected so many residents like him.

LAMANTIA: He had lost his sight in the last couple of years. Not only was COVID like a silent spreader, but then he was in the dark, literally.

CHANG: She says Shaw almost never left his room but caught the virus anyway.

LAMANTIA: You think someone - he can't see, he can't go anywhere, and he still gets it. You know, that's the reality. From the time we found out he had it until he passed, it was only four days.

SHAPIRO: LaMantia says her grandfather was visited by a loving family member in those last few days, who was allowed to visit in a hazmat suit. Shaw's funeral took place over Zoom, like so many these days.

LAMANTIA: At the cemetery, they did a bagpiper, which was very special for him. And I know that he had mentioned he had wanted that at his funeral.

(SOUNDBITE OF BAGPIPE MUSIC)

SHAPIRO: That's Nadia LaMantia remembering her grandfather, Ed Shaw, who died of COVID-19 last December.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.