Sunday, October 14, 2012

Honoring Those Who Have Served

Tomah has been raising funds to build a veterans memorial for awhile now.  They dedicated the memorial about a year and a half ago now but this was my first visit back home since it was built.  And it actually isn't completed--there is work going on now for "Phase II" to add more names.  During the fundraising campaign, we decided to donate money to have a tile placed with Dad, Sherrill, Darren and my name on the tile.  I had fun looking for old pictures of all of us from when we were in the military.  I used pictures of Dad with his buddy, Doug Maas, taking a break from cooking at Ft. Lewis; a picture of Darren working on the flight line with the F-16's somewhere in Japan I think.  He was stationed at Misawa but I think this was taken at another base.  No exciting pictures of Sherrill and I doing nursing but I had pictures of our families.  I had Tom just before Bill and I got out of the Army and the picture of Sherrill is with her family at her promotion to Colonel.
Dad and I stopped to see the memorial while I was home and took our pictures by our tile.  I took pictures of lots of friends' and relatives' names on the wall.  A few of them are represented in my layout but there were too many to include.  We have ties to so many names on the wall in one way or another--family, friends from high school, fellow guardsmen, our physicians, customers at the gas station, etc.  Being from a small town, you know or know of practically every one of those names. 

The one that always touches me the most is Joe Kube.  He was one of my dad's friendsl.  I might have this wrong but I think there were in the National Guard together at one point.  But he was an active duty infantry and special forces officer.  He served three tours in Vietnam and was killed a month into his third tour at the age 31.  His wife was pregnant with their third child when he died --a son who was named Joe as well.  When Joe was killed, his family lived on an Army base in Georgia but after his death, his wife returned home to Tomah with their children to raise them.  I grew up knowing his kids--we were close neighbors and we played with them all the time.  My brother is still friends with Joe Jr. and his family.  And his wife still lives in the same house by my dad.  When I went to visit The Wall in Washington, D.C., I made sure I found Joe's name and took an etching of it to send to his wife.  She had never been there and appreciated the gesture.  Dane came across a picture of him on the internet a few years ago posted by one of his buddies in Vietnam.  It was one that the family wasn't aware of and were happy to learn of as well.  Since Joe in particular never knew his dad, he is always anxious for pictures or information that will give him a taste of what his dad was like.

Veteran's Day is a month away yet--but it is always appropriate to think about our military and our veterans and the sacrifices that they make for our country so that we can have all the freedoms that we enjoy.

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