My Uncle Frankie was killed in Viet Nam shortly after I was born. He was the fourth of my Grandmother’s five children, five children she raised and sent to Catholic schools by herself on a secretary’s salary. She was an incredible provider, but college wasn’t an option for her children at the time. The draft was an option, at least for one of her boys.
I didn’t know Frankie, but from the stories my Mother and my Grandmother told me as I was growing up, he was funny, handsome, and bit of an outlaw. Knowing his older brother, my uncle, Hank, I am certain that Frankie was encouraged a bit in the outlaw behavior. Frankie’s other older brother, Bill, is a Catholic priest. He undoubtedly tried to discourage the outlaw in Frankie. I can easily imagine Frankie trying to find his own path.
Like many young men during the sixties, he had no interest in serving his country. He especially had no interest in going to war. He resented being drafted into the Army, and he resented being compelled to serve. When he went off to boot camp, his youngest brother, Pat, took him to the bus station on his motorcycle. Frankie refused to take a single item with him, even a toothbrush. He was a defiant spirit, and there aren’t many things more American than that.
When he returned from boot camp, he told my grandmother that he was going to Viet Nam, and that he would be killed there. Believing he would be killed, he went to war anyway, like so many others. He did what his country asked of him. He did what his honor required of him. And he gave his young life doing it.
He was killed walking point shortly after arriving in Viet Nam.
Today, remember those that have given their lives serving their country.
Remember the brave souls who volunteered to run towards the sound of the guns, and remember those who only ran towards the sound of the guns because we asked it of them.
Remember the families who lost their husbands, their fathers, their brothers, and their sons serving this country and putting themselves in harms way. Remember the families who have made unimaginable sacrifices.
Remember those who go and fight so we don’t have to. Remember those who have tried to make this world a better and safer place and who have made the ultimate sacrifice doing so.