Today I am sharing this milestone once again. It is not an easy milestone to share. I wrote this statement in another post as it is the reality even fifty years on,
the ultimate sacrifice paid by a soldier is always a debt owed by the surviving family. My family is one such family. We will always be the family of a soldier killed in Vietnam in April of 1967. ( to read this post click here)My dad was a young man when he was killed. He was 28 years old and had been married to my mom for less than 7 years. When dad was killed mom was pregnant with me, their sixth child. Cathy was 5, the twins David and Liz were 4, John was 3, Peter was 2 and I was two months shy of being born.
My mom was amazing and raised my siblings and I to be very strong, independent people. The soldiers of Vietnam weren't treated as honorably and respectfully as soldiers are today. The anti-war sentiment was rampant across the nation and it was a heavy burden for mom to be the widow of a man that many called negative names. She was a brave woman and a letter she wrote made it to the 91st Congress and is forever memorialized in the Congressional Record Vol. 115 No. 175 October 28, 1969. I never knew that she wrote this letter until a few weeks ago. You see, she lost the love of her life and it deeply impacted her. Here is a portion of the letter she submitted:
[It was about] the forthcoming anti-war October 15, Day of Moratorium [which she called] these pacifiers, these malcontents, these groups, and yes, even some members of Congress are going to carry on placards...are going to read into the Congressional Record the names of our soldiers killed in Vietnam. They are going to use these precious names to justify and support their position on Vietnam which ranges from rightful conscientious objection, to pacifism, to cowardice, to Communism, to treason, and even to support the Hanoi regime. Well I know an Infantryman who fought and died in Vietnam; he didn't fight because he was a warmonger or a hired assassin; he was fighting, and, yes killing for the South Vietnamese people-he was fighting to protect them. He was killed a little over two years ago-our soldiers are still desperately needed there. This infantryman (one of 40,000+), myself (his widow), and his six children feel a great love and sorrow for the families of South Vietnam.
I feel it is[the Day of Moratorium] a terrible injustice to my husband and the cause he fought for(as a soldier, as an American, as a gentleman) that these people will carry his name, publicize his name, and have it read into the Congressional Record for purposes so contradictory to what he sincerely felt himself. If there is any way his name can be rescinded from their lists, I would appreciate your kind assistance. If not, may I say thank you for your magnanimous support of the United States soldier, his dependents, and his survivors.
Sincerely, Mrs. David P. Gibson
Catherine (8 years)
David (7 years)
Elizabeth (7 years)
John (6 years)
Peter (4 years)
Jennifer (2 years)
This was the attitude of the nation then. This was what my mother did to stand tall for us, and ensure that dad's honor was not marred by those wishing to use the dead to push forward their cause. I knew mom was a courageous woman, but wow, this letter is of a woman that says it like it is and means it.
Dad's death changed mom. She did remarry and had another daughter and gained a step-daughter but she became very guarded about dad. After being married to my Bill I understand.
My siblings and I know dad died serving a nation he loved. The loss is not a gut wrenching loss today but a sorrowful loss. It is a sorrow for what dad missed out on and what we missed out on. It is so devastating to know what my mother missed out on. As a couple they were still in the diapering, baby stages. They missed out on the teen years, the weddings, and so many milestones.
Mom outlived dad by 44 years. She died on February 19, 2011.
Dad is forever 28.
My mother detailed the events of dad's funeral: I am going to share my mom's words once again, just a snippet of her description of the military funeral. I am not going to mention any names of the personnel that Mom mentions, but aside from that, here are her words:
There was a short blessing at the grave by an army chaplain-then the gun salute by the 58th Infantry-a bugler sounded taps-and the military pall bearers-all in dress blues began the folding of our most precious flag.
Then they presented the flag to the Captain who in turn with warm and stirring words gave it to me. Then I turned and left the cemetery-it was all over-we had been married a little over 6 1/2 years-so short a time-David had been in Vietnam only 41 days-he had totally given of himself the supreme sacrifice.
Legacy of David and Dee:
6 children: Cathy, Dave, Liz, John, Pete, and me Jenny.
15 grandchildren: David, Ann, Tony, Danielle, Katie, Cameron, Bill, Peter, Ashley, Ruben, Parker, Trey, Carson, Cali, Mari.
10 great-grandchildren: David, Lily, Carson, Sam, Kayd, Kam, Eva, Jacoby, Zoey, and Levi. One more great-grand is due late summer thanks to my oldest and his wife.
Military service: My brother Pete made a career out of the Army and retired a few years ago. My oldest son served in the Army and served in Afghanistan and my youngest son took the oath of enlistment this past Wednesday and leaves for Basic Training at the end of the month.
Fifty years later, me the baby, will turn 50 in June and my oldest son will turn 28. This is the part that is so hard as dates and ages and numbers are always in my head. I know I am not a baby but forever I will be and have said this before, the baby born too late.
Ten years ago Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit shared the post I wrote about dad. It is the only post I have up on my other blog Pen of Jen. It was so profound to realize that the Vietnam soldier was no longer a stigma or something that we kept quiet about. I will always be thankful that Jim shared my story of dad.
Here are some things I have written about my dad as the quote I shared about the debt the family pays is forever.
Historic Find Continued
Fifty three years ago
News and Letters from 1967
Always to Remember
42 years ago today
46 years ago today
Here are some things my dad had on him
Clipping of the first announcement of his death.
Long Dose of Reflection
American History 1967
February 20, 1967