Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sepia & Memorial Day



Have you ever put off writing a post until you took care of another one that had been waiting, and you have not done that one, so you really should not do any until you can pull yourself together and just do it RIGHT? Yes I have procrastinated, and that is the truth. I have been wondering what I could say about a month long absence from The Keeping Room other than "School just takes up all my time!" I have been busy, mostly with work, but also with just having a wonderful time which I will tell more about in the coming summer days.

For now, I am ready to tell you about my Sepia girl, a day late for Sepia Saturday, but on time for tomorrow. The little girl you see above posed for the camera some time in the early 1930's. She was eight or nine years old. I believe this was taken before scarlet fever rendered her deaf. Elsie, named after her mother, was a bright and industrious student. She had two brothers, William and Thomas. Her father was an accountant for Tennessee Coal & Iron and her mother a loving homemaker. After high school, she earned a scholarship to Gallaudette University that she never used. However, marriage was foremost in her plans, and she married just as America became involved in World War II. Her older brother William, First Marine Division, died on an island in the South Pacific, in the spring of 1944, just weeks before her first child was born. Three years later, she had a daughter. Her younger brother Thomas, 11th Airborne, fought and died in the Korean War. His body was never recovered.

Before Elsie died in January of 1981, that first born son, my husband, known to my readers as the Colonel, promised her (as she no doubt had promised her mother Elsie) that he would make every effort to bring her little brother home. True to his word, he has pursued this goal through the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office. (Click on the blue to read all about it!) He and his sister have sent in blood samples to have their DNA recorded. He has attended their regional meetings and heard some amazing stories much like one that aired on NPR (click in the red to listen) last month. Due the the location of Thomas's last battle above the 38th Parallel (the dividing line between North and South Korea) the chances of any attempt to find his remains are remote. Dealing with North Korea is a political barrier that only time can remove. This organization was born out of the efforts of families of the Vietnam POW's and MIA's. I hope that it endures. Perhaps some day Thomas will be sent home.

William was awarded the Silver Star posthumously. He is buried with his parents in Birmingham. The Colonel and I inherited his coffin flag and the one that was also given for Thomas. I composed a poem inspired by the story of Elsie, her brothers, and the two flags. I will post it on July 4th.

12 comments:

Maggie May said...

This is a fascinating and poignant post. Thank you for sharing.

Rowan said...

How sad that Elsie lost both her brothers. I hope that Thomas will one day be found and brought back home.

Sandra Leigh said...

Your post is very touching. I am reminded just how lucky I have been. Thank you -- and welcome back.

Country Girl said...

A sad story but a story so similar to many others in our country at that time in history. They gave their lives so that we could remain free. Our duty is to remember.
xo

L. D. Burgus said...

Oh what a touching and powerful post. The losses were so great by Elsie but she never quit. It is so amazing that the remains were found. Thanks for sharing this excellent post.

Sandra said...

Fabulous post; thank you for time well spent here tonight.

Tom Atkins said...

Thank you.

willow said...

This is such an amazing story. I'm looking forward to the July 4th poem. Did Elsie communicate with sign language? It's a subject near and dear to my heart. I used to be a licensed sign language interpreter for the deaf.

WT also inherited a coffin flag from a cousin who died in WWII. I must post on it someday.

FireLight said...

Willow, both of the Colonel's parents were deaf. They were of the generation or ilk...if you will...who preferred using the alphabet and spelling everything. It was a matter of style and how the children would be taught to communicate. The Colonel could use the deaf alphabet before he could write.
In recent years, though both parents passed away years ago, my sister-in-law has become an interpreter using American Sign Language. I think it is beautiful.

Derrick said...

Hello FireLight,

A touching story and one of many that will have been remembered over the past weekend. A deal of work is still being done in Europe to locate and identify remains.

As for posting frequency, at least you have a reason!

willow said...

Oh, that's very interesting. I bet they could spell lightening fast. Isn't it wonderful your sister-in-law has since become an interpreter? The Colonel's parents would be proud.

alaine@éclectique said...

What a lovely thing to do! I listened to the NPR broadcast; most interesting and amazing what can be done today! I do hope you can find Thomas and bring him home.

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Recreational scholar, former high school and junior college English teacher. Animal lover (especially horses, dogs, and people), live in the South, sometimes poet and essayist... "Ireland, Scotland, Britain, and Wales...I can hear those ancient voices calling..." Van Morrison from Celtic Heartbeat