Last year about this time Fort Campbell and the Clarksville/Hopkinsville area had a rare treat--a visit from the traveling Vietnam War Memorial Wall. The miniature wall was set up just outside of Fort Campbell's back gate in the Destiny Park area in a beautiful and convenient location. Mr. Fix-it, the Jimster, and I decided to make a visit to the memorial while it was visiting here last year. These pictures are all from last year since we went right after Memorial Day. This year I am posting them in honor of Memorial Day.
When you walk up to the area where the wall is located you are immediately met by this sign. It was a sobering sign to all of us and told us immediately that quiet, respect, and dignity were called for. This traveling wall is not like a traveling carnival. It was not there for people to gawk and comment but only for people to look for names, reflect on the sacrifices the listed persons made, and to be grateful for all of our freedoms.
My father and uncle were both soldiers in the Vietnam war. While my father is doing well my uncle lost his battle with an Agent Orange related disease just last month. I think of him every single day. Typing this post brings tears to my eyes. I am grateful I got to spend some time with my uncle last fall and early this spring.
My uncle was my godfather and I was very close to him my entire life. When we lived close my family would often visit him and his great companion Mitsuko. Mitsuko, who is Okinawan, cooks the best tempura ever. Upon one particularly trying move from Germany to North Carolina by way of Alabama my children and I made a surprise visit to my uncle's home and were welcomed with some super good cooking. We have never forgotten that night and are grateful for the small things in life-mainly family. If you have ever moved a long distance you know how very hard it can be and this is something servicemen and women have to do every few years. A good home cooked meal can make all the difference and my aunt and uncle sure helped my family to settle in smoothly after our permanent change of station from Germany to North Carolina.
My uncle was a tall, slim, red head who fought as an artilleryman. He jumped out of airplanes as part of his job and wow, he was quite a sight all decked out in his uniform when preparing to jump from some huge planes in the middle of the night. One night he had a bad jump and received an injury. I never heard him complain about that injury. It just was what it was and he dealt with it.
Upon retiring my aunt and uncle retired to Florida to live a life of leisure. Unfortunately that was not to be for my uncle. When my uncle became ill with liver disease he kept up a very strong and reassuring appearance. He never let on to anyone just how sick he really was. It was not until this year that he was diagnosed with liver cancer. Even with the terrible diagnosis of liver cancer my uncle was a paratrooper to the end and remained strong. We miss him dearly. He may be gone but not forgotten because of all of the memories we have of him.
|Roger and Jimmy at Destiny Parks Pavillion Fort Campbell Kentucky|
I don't normally post very personal things like this on the blog but my uncle loved the blog and enjoyed hearing about it from me. He also adored my husband and Jimmy. I think he would be happy I have posted a little bit of his story on this post. To tell it all I'd be talking all day and then some. I can tell you how I remember driving with my grandmother to go pick up my uncle just home from the Vietnam war. I vividly remember this trip because it was at night and the moths were thick in the car's headlights. I don't know what happened to all the moths but it is not like that anymore. I can tell you all the fun my uncle had as not only a soldier but also as a teacher in the prison system in Florida helping countless prisoners to turn their lives around by getting their GED, I could tell you about his love for cars, and fruit, and Florida, and his family, his great big huge pride in having served with the 173rd Airborne during the Vietnam War, and so much more but I will stop for now. If you have ever seen the movie We Were Soldiers you can see the determination those soldiers who fought in Vietnam displayed and also the camaraderie. This was my uncle to the end and we remember him this special Memorial Day.
Just about everyone knows someone who has served not only in the Vietnam War but in many of the wars since then. You may even know someone who has perhaps paid the ultimate price for serving; whether that is during war or after as in the case of my uncle it is the greatest sacrifice. Let us take time to reflect for all of our veterans. Let us be quiet, dignified, and respectful for their sacrifices and let us tread on hallowed ground and think of all the brave souls who have passed before us on this Memorial Day.
|Picture from my nephew in Bushnell Veteran's Cemetery in Florida.|
So you see this Memorial Day will be extra poignant for all of us in my family who knew my uncle. He exemplified all of the veterans who bravely fight for us every day and who will not be forgotten....
in the garden....
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