This Monday was Memorial Day, the day we honor those in the military who died fighting for us. Our family lost some soldiers in two different wars.
My Grandma Wilkinson’s brother Gustav Schmidt, a full-blood German, changed his name to Gus Smith, joined the Army and went to fight the Germans in WWI. He died in France two days after his 23rd birthday and is buried in Lemmon.
During WWI Reub’s uncle, Clarence “Tad” Olson, joined the Army and was breaking horses for the remount station at Ft. Keogh near Miles City, Montana when he died from a second bout of the Spanish Flu a month before his 21st birthday after trying to save a fellow soldier who also died from that horrible disease. Tad is buried in Reeder, ND next to his parents, Delos and Hattie Olson.
Reub was named after his Dad’s best friend, Reuben Negaard, who was also the brother of Emil Negaard who was married to Gustav’s sister, Martha Smith. Reuben Negaard was killed in WWII on July 3, 1944 during the invasion of France. He was 25 years old and is buried in France. The night Reuben was killed Buck couldn’t sleep and kept getting up and going into baby Reub’s room to sit by his crib because he just felt something terrible was happening. Reuben’s mother, Mary (Tolstad) Negaard treated Buck like he was one of her own sons and every year she would make him a big bucket full of hominy that he just loved.
This is a sad week for my family. My sister Judy Amor lost her battle with cancer and passed away last Wednesday at the Hettinger hospital. Her funeral will be this Wednesday in Bison and we will bury her in the Glendo Cemetery next to where our Grandma Wilkinson, Gustav Smith’s sister, lived.
Years ago, when my sister was living outside Washington, DC, Judy and I visited the Arlington National Cemetery. We spent hours trying to find the grave of Audie Murphy, the most decorated veteran of WWII who served with our father, Bryce White. We found President JFK, his brother Robert Kennedy, and several other famous people, but Audie Murphy’s grave wasn’t in any special place like they were. He was buried amongst other ordinary fallen heroes without any notification of his decorations or his heroism, which is just the way he would have wanted it.
I’ve had about all I can handle, so I’ll leave you with this:
1. Don’t wish me a Happy Memorial day. There is nothing happy about brave men and women dying while in combat for their country.
2. It’s not a holiday. It’s a remembrance not an excuse to have a mattress sale.
3. If you want to know the true meaning, visit Arlington or your local VA, not Disneyworld.
4. Don’t tell me how great any one political power is. Tell me about Chesty Puller, George Patton, John Basilone, Dakota Meyer, Kyle Carpenter, Mitchell Paige, Ira Hayes, Chris Kyle and any other heroes too numerous to name. If you don’t know who these people are…look them up. Attend a Bell Ceremony and shed some tears.
5. Say a prayer… and then another.
6. Remember the Fallen for all the good they did while they were here.
7. Reach out and let a Vet know you’re there, we’re losing too many in “peace”.
8. Go to work and fight for the rights of Vets who are not getting the simplest courtesies, like proper care from the V.A.