Army Posts

Gold Star Families: Making a President Look More Presidential

Owens

There are these documents most every Gold Star family has stashed somewhere. The signatures on those documents change from era to era, but the White House seal, it stays the same. The ones I have are over 50 years old now. They belonged to my mother but she passed them on to me – the document keeper of the family.

There’s the Regret-to-Inform telegram confirming that Staff Sgt. David P. Spears was KIA on July 24, 1966.

There’s the Letter of Sympathy sent from the United States president.

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Hobbling Along

I took an ailing veteran to the VA Center in Boise, Idaho this week. He’s a young fellow, in his mid-forties. A big lug of a guy, 6′ 3″, and hauling around too much weight on his broken frame of a body.

Twenty years ago, when he was all taut muscle and in running form, an infection set in, ate away his thigh muscle. During those three weeks he spent at the hospital, doctors considered amputating the leg.

Years of favoring the one leg over the other have taken their toll on the veteran. He’s crippled up. Standing takes an act of the will. It is something he has to intention to do. He must first scooch himself to the edge of the chair. Then he grabs hold of something – the chair arm, the counter-top, a set of crutches – and pulls himself to a standing position on the one good leg. His feet splay out of the rips in the worn and ill-fitting leather loafers. They do not steady him as much as plant him. He does not stand straight and tall, but bent over, head in a perpetual bow.

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