WAR IS MORE THAN THE FLASH of a news story, a list of statistics, a row of flags marking graves.
War is personal. War is a flag-draped coffin, a name upon a tombstone, grief for a loved one.
I expect nearly every one of you could share a story of a family member who served in the Armed Forces, perhaps even gave his/her life for country.
This Memorial Day—between the travel and fun of the weekend—please reflect on the true meaning of this holiday. Remember those who died on battlefields or along roads or in trenches during too many wars.
I need look no farther than a brown shoebox. It holds the memorabilia of war, of my father’s time as an infantryman on the front lines during the Korean War. Among the photos and other items is a memorial service bulletin dated July 31, 1953, Sucham-dong, Korea. It lists the names of 28 men from the 2nd Battalion, 65th Infantry Regiment who died in service to country.
Among those names, my dad’s Army buddy, Raymond W. Scheibe. Ray died the day before he was to return home to his wife and infant daughter. My heart breaks when I think of that, of my dad witnessing his friend’s death and then Ray’s family getting the awful news back in Nebraska. A young wife left a widow. A daughter never knowing her father. Grieving parents.
War is personal. To think that my dad saved this memorial service bulletin shows me the depths of his grief. He could have tossed the piece of paper after the service—after the singing of patriotic songs and reading of Scripture and prayer and roll call and a moment of silence. But he didn’t. He folded the now yellowed paper into quarters and carried it with him, across the ocean, across the country, back home to Minnesota.
Through that action, my father, dead 15 years now, honored his soldier-friend. He assured that the next generation, me, would remember. War is personal. War is a worn slip of paper saved for 65 years.
FYI: Many opportunities exist in the Faribault area to honor our veterans on Memorial Day. Here’s a partial list:
- 9 a.m. Laying of the wreath and flag raising ceremony, Rice County Courthouse lawn, Faribault
- 10 a.m. Memorial Day parade down Central Avenue, Faribault
- 15 minutes after the end of the Faribault parade, Memorial Day program, Central Park, Faribault
- 10:30 a.m. parade in Kenyon followed by a program at the Kenyon Cemetery
- 2 p.m. Memorial Day program at the Cannon City Cemetery
© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling