Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

It's Veterans Day today. I salute veterans everywhere, and I especially want to acknowledge my coworkers who've served in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

It's an especially somber Veterans Day today for me today.

My uncle Darrell is a veteran who served during the Vietnam War. When he learned that he would be drafted into the Army, he enlisted rather than wait for his time to report.

Darrell is the second youngest of my dad's seven siblings. He was always freakishly strong and athletic, so it didn't surprise the family much when Darrell was awarded recognition as the Battalion Outstanding Trainee in Basic Training--he broke the record for the obstacle course--and was singled out again in Advanced Infantry Training, when he was designated the Company Outstanding Trainee.

Darrell was one heck of a marksman before he went into the Army. In Basic Training, he maxed all of the firing ranges. Perfect score.

Darrell was a natural born fighting machine, and in 1966, things were heating up in Vietnam. So the Army, naturally, sent him to Germany, and made him a clerk.

Darrell did serve in Vietnam though. He was there on temporary duty for three weeks, behind a desk.

He served his time, got out of the Army, got a job, got married, and had two daughters.

I learned two days ago that my uncle Darrell has brain cancer. Without treatment, the doctors give him three to six months. With treatment, they give him a year. I don't know if he's made a decision yet.

So, I give a special salute to my uncle Darrell, the guy who never forgot that my dad, from the age of twelve, helped raise his younger siblings with whatever job he could find after school. He was the first family member to show up at my parents' house on the day my dad died. He stood at the door with tears in his eyes, and hugged me so hard that my feet left the floor.

I can remember thinking as a kid that Darrell was an incognito superhero. I haven't changed my mind.

I have to go now.


Debby said...

Oh. God bless your uncle Darrell. The best eulogies are the ones that are given while the person is still with us. You did good, Hal, and if your Uncle Darrell reads your blog, he will be glad.

Pam said...

I agree, God bless your uncle Darrell!! What a touching tribute to him. I, too, hope he's able to read this.

Bob said...

Ditto what Debby and Pam said. Darrell is a true American hero.

Kelly said...

Agreed. A wonderful tribute to your uncle.

quid said...

Oh, Hal, how sad.

A great piece that features why you love him, so sorry for his upcoming sorrows.