One of our lesser holidays that we note each year, but always seem to forget the real purpose behind. Often confused with Memorial Day but without the Monday Federal Holiday and banks and the post office are open.
So the refresher:
Memorial Day honors those members of the armed forces who died in the service of their country. Veterans Day is a U.S. legal holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars. In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I, then known as “the Great War.” Commemorated in many countries as Armistice Day the following year, November 11th became a federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became legally known as Veterans Day.
Cedar's uncle, Dr. Richard Brown is one of many veterans in our family. Dr. Brown served in a MASH Unit during the Korean war. He shipped out in 1952 within weeks of marrying my aunt and graduating from medical school. His photo is below.
After the war he returned to the states and continued his medical career as the only doctor in the small town of Spencer West Virginia. Dr. Brown is a West Virginia native who graduated from University of West Virginia and was a fraternity brother of actor comedian Don Knotts.
|Cedar's Uncle Richard W. Brown, MD Circa 1952 Korea|
And so we say thank you to all the thousands of men and women who like Dr. Brown (Uncle Dick) who have served in our armed forces.
The following is an outtake from the book "MASH - An Army Surgeon in Korea" by Otto F. Apel, Jr. MD, a follow medical doctor who served during the same time as my uncle. Just a reminder than its never too late to say thank you to a veteran or in this case a fellow veteran. His book was published 2 years before his death on November 9, 2000.
Korea was a long time ago.
Korea was a mountainous country far away and the war there happened a long time ago. Even now, time and distance separate us. Korea was far from my mind on a recent autumn evening as I drove from my office in the Ohio River town of Portsmouth, out the rural roads into the hills and farms and communities, to my house back up a country road away from everything.
In the Appalachian foothills of southern Ohio in the fall, when the leaves turn colors and the weather cools and the geese flock south, the mushrooms are out in the fields. As I turned up the country road toward home, I was followed by a man and a woman in a pickup truck. My wife Joan, saw them too. Neither of us said anything.
"Who is that?" Joan asked.
"I don't know," I said.
I put my car in reverse and eased back towards him. Several yards away, I stopped and stepped out. The man glanced up, unsurprised. He was a handsome man who appeared to be in his late fifties or early sixties, I looked at the truck and saw the woman starting at us. The man's clear eyes searched the ground as he ambled on over to the fence. He clutched something in his clean lean fingered hand.
"Can I help you?" I said. While standing cautiously on the other side of the fence.
"Naw, I don't need no help. I'm just out here looking for mushrooms.
"I don't know whether there are any mushrooms out there", I said. I glanced involuntarily to the fading green pasture.
"This your property?" he asked.
I said it was. Joan watched from our car.
He came a little closer until he stood several yards from me but still on the other side of the fence. Beneath the old, torn army field jacket he wore a plaid shirt and overalls.
"You Dr. Apel?" he asked.
I said I was.
"You the surgeon?"
I nodded. "Can I help you with anything?" I asked.
"You the one I read about in the paper a couple of months ago? The one who was in the MASH unit in Korea?"
He looked over his shoulder and quickly back to me. He smiled "You remember me?"
I searched his face. "I don't think I do."
He said his name and it did not ring a bell.
"I lived on Fourth Street all my life. Grew up there, went to high school four of five years behind you. I lived there all my life.
I could see that he held a mushroom in this hand; he pulled it up close to his face and studied it. He turned it, pinched it open as if he were dissecting it. Without looking up from his mushroom, he told me when he worked.
"I worked there ever since I got back from Korea," he said proudly.
In the silence of the evening , a tractor engine roared slowly over the field. A distant car with its lights on pushed down the country road.
You still don't remember me?"
For the life of me, I could not place him.
"I was in your MASH unit back in 1951. I was with the 17th Infantry, 7th Division. Was hit in the should near the Hwachon Reservoir. They brought me in and I seen you working there and asked if it was you. I said to the nurse, Is that man from Ohio?" And the nurse, she looked and said you was."
He lobbed the mushroom underhand out into the field.
"I was there in 1951 and '52," I said.
"I know you was," he said quickly. "You worked on me and next thing I knew I was back in Japan in one of them hospitals. I never got to say thanks, to you. Hadn't been for you, they tell me I woudla been dead."
I had to smile.
He scrunched his face. "Yeah, ever since I got back, I been meaning to come out here and say 'thanks' to you."
"That was fifty years ago," I said.
"Yeah," he said with a sheepish grin. I guess time just gets away for you, don't it? I been meaning to come out here and just never got around to it. Kept meaning to come out sooner or later. I thought today's as good a time as any."
I laughed warmly. "I appreciate it."
"Anyway," he said, "thanks for all you done."
We stood for a moment in silence. The cicadas screeching in the trees.
"Well," he said, "can't keep the wife waiting."
And with that, he turned and sauntered back toward his truck. I watch as he walked slowly, grasped the barbed wire, opened a place and crawled through. He hopped across the gully to the pickup and stepped in. The engine started with the roar of the rusted-out muffler, and he went on down the road. In a moment her was out of sight.
"You're welcome," I said.
Korea and the MASH were a long time ago. I have not been back since 1952 - except frequently when I have involuntarily jerked at a loud noise that sounded like artillery or when I have cried out in the darkness from a deep and vivid dream. Now even the thoughts and the dreams are less frequent. But all this time I have intended to go back. I have wondered what that was about and what we were doing there. I know it is a part of us and a part of me, and all these years I have intended to go back.
You can purchase Dr. Apel's book on Amazon in both hardback and electronic editions here.
We are proud of our family of veterans:
John MacEntyre, Continental Army 1776-1778
Samuel Studdard South Carolina Militia 1812-1814 Horseshoe Bend, Battle of New Orleans
Nathan Edmonds, US Army Georgia Volunteers Seminole Indian Wars 1818
Samuel MacEntyre, US Army KIA 1863 Battle of Kennesaw Mountain
John Edmonds, CSA 26th Alabama Captured Battle of Gettysburg US Army 1863-1864
Ernest Duty ,US Navy WW I
Donald Dufalt, US Marine Corps KIA 1942 Battle of Midway
Teman Wilhite, US Marine Corps WW II, Navy Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart Battle of Midway 1942
Wallace Edmonds, US Army 1941-1943 Germany WWII
Simon Henry, US Army WW, II Korea
John Geiger, III, US Army Air Corps Germany
Milton Carney, US Marine Corps WW II, Korea
Richard Brown, MD US Army MASH 1951-1952 Korea
Robert Brown, USAF Panama
Peter Carney, US Navy Iraq Afghanistan