Today is the 35th anniversary of the original “earth day” and I can vaguely recall the event. However, something else which took place that day had a much greater impact on my life-
June 14, 1947 – April 22, 1970
son, student, teacher, husband, father, friend, comrade
I was thirteen at the time and had not seen Don since he left to join the Navy and was sent to Vietnam. Our parents socialized occasionally but, with the nine year gap in our age, I knew Don best as my 5th grade Sunday school class teacher. He must have been a saint to put up with a bunch of ten year olds whose interests were with anything but religion at the time. Don’s funeral was on a beautiful Florida spring day. I sat in the church pew listening to Rev. Gordon Craig recall the discussion with Don as he was making the decision to join the military. Later, at the cemetery, another boy from church and myself gathered some of the spent shells from the 21 gun salute. I kept the brass as a reminder for several decades before leaving them at Don’s simple, government provided, veteran’s metal grave marker. I still go there to visit. One day, some time after his death, our family was at Don’s parents’ house when his mother noticed I was fidgeting. She commented she understood how I was acting because she once had a teenage son just like me. I told her I remembered.
I’ve never visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The only name I’d recognize is on Panel 11W, Row 38. That is where it becomes personal and not just names etched in stone.