Lewis Logan, my grandfather, was a man who was in that place until his life was disrupted with “the plague of war.”
Part III: This week’s story, by Aaron Fiske, is about his grandfather who survived a civil war in Liberia. Fortunately, he and his family came to the U.S. to start a new life.
Along with Aaron, I have had the privilege this semester to teach some very good writing students. There will be five more stories after this one which showcase the many different backgrounds of first year students who are represented on our UMC campus.
– Kristina Gray, UMC Composition instructor
Many people in their late thirties are living a stable life with a family that they provide for in order to maintain their stability. Lewis Logan, my grandfather, was a man who was in that place until his life was disrupted with “the plague of war.” My grandfather, a native of Liberia, found himself in a situation and position that would consume and destroy most people. On the contrary, he chose the route of perseverance instead of damnation.
When the Civil War first hit Liberia in 1991, people were not too aware of the conditions that were becoming a standard in certain parts of the country. However, in 1995, the whole country was being consumed and victimized by what Lewis would call, “a war of ignorance.” At this point, Lewis had to become not just a father, but he had to become Superman for all those around him. With a wife and eight children depending on him, plus grandchildren, he had to dig deep in his reserves to make sure everyone’s lives were not jeopardized. This is his story that he shared with me, so I can share with you.
Lewis Logan did not have an intimidating physical structure back in those dreadful days. He was and still is about five foot five inches. My grandfather is a light-skinned man with a warm smile, but rather deep authoritative voice. His build was rather average, but body tone was more towards the cut on the athletic side. His profession as a mechanic played a part in this physique. Since Lewis worked as a mechanic, he also took care of his body as much as he could. Being a Professor at the University of Liberia was another occupation that my grandfather held.
My grandpa comes from a tribe in Liberia known for their beauty, so you can imagine he was a very handsome man. Obviously, he has aged and sort of depleted in his tantalizing appearance. When he did have that enticing smile and charm, he was a ladies man. You can imagine why he has eight children. This was a time of larger families, so I understand the extensive amount of children.
When the war first came around in 1991, it was, in a way contained, to only a small region of the country. According to my grandpa, this civil war was started, “out of ignorance and misled followers, who just wanted to change the cultural norms of society.” He remembers that at the beginning of the chaos, the rebel forces were just going along with what their leaders were feeding them. As the civil war started to get extremely heated in 1995, everyone was being effected by the ongoing evils of war. At this point, no one was safe, no one had stability, and none had a sense of hope.
During this time, my grandfather had days where he could not find food for his family before he could even think of himself. He had nights that he would wake up in agonizing pain, because the rats were starving just as much as he and his family were so they would nibble on their heels. Imagine living under circumstances like this. I asked him how did he keep his sanity, how did he keep a calm and collective composure, how did he make it through? His only response was, “God and the love for my family.”
Life was so gloomy in this chapter of his life. There was no help from outside sources. Refugee camps were overflowing. My grandfather had to send some of his children to other countries like Ghana and Sierra Leone. Luckily, in 1998, my grandfather was able to come to America through a refugee program. This is when life started to look up and become livable. New Jersey was the state that they came to and resided when they first arrived. The struggles of the past became just that, the past. Lewis continued with his life, even though it was not the same. The experience that helped him grow and build his perseverance will always be something that makes him proud.
All in all, my grandfather was a man that built character throughout his life because of the experiences he had. Lewis said he obviously wished circumstances had been better, but is glad of the knowledge and gains that he could take away from this experience. He became a better husband and father because he stepped out of a comfort zone that he knew and had to expand on his paternal duties. There are nights where he still dreams of the horrors he had seen, but knows that those are all figments of the past. The life that he has now is truly a blessing that he cherishes and values. He is glad he could share his story with me so that I can share with you.