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Retracing the Paths of My Uncles part 7

Discussion in 'Philosophical Musings' started by cincibuck, May 24, 2017.

  1. cincibuck

    cincibuck You kids stay off my lawn!

    Two stories always emerged at Brandt family get togethers. especially those around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    The first story was that Aunt Rose bought one of those tiny, three-foot Christmas trees attached to a metal tree stand filled with God knows what chemicals intended to keep the tree alive or embalm it.

    She mailed it in early November, in a box she stuffed with dry popcorn. Somehow the APO (Army Post Office) managed to get the tree to Uncle Cliff just as the 75th Division was entering the line of battle. Uncle Cliff, who was the family mechanical wizard, "liberated" a battery from the division motor pool and soon had the lights on the tree glowing in a company bunker, deep in the darkness of the Ardennes.

    It was shortly after this that Uncle Cliff was shot in the leg - I don't know the circumstances, and he didn't receive a Purple Heart. Accident? Self Inflicted? There is no "line of duty investigation," or a courts martial summary. Only Uncle Cliff knows. But he was hospitalized and that leads to the second story.

    Somehow, word got to Uncle Ray and he managed to get permission to take a jeep and visit Uncle Cliff.

    That sounds like an ordinary event in civilian, peace-time terms. But this takes place in a disorganized, chaotic, battlefield, from two divisions who did not share an AO (Area of Operations), on roads that had been hammered by artillery, tanks, and traffic.

    I grew up an isolate. My sister was eight years older and probably resented the hell out of the younger brother who got his father's name and was a male in an era when that meant so much more than it does today. (and no, I'm not suggesting gender equality exists in 2017) The story of Uncle Ray's determination to visit his brother always struck me, and when, in Vietnam, Uncle Cliff and Aunt Rose sent me a three-foot, chemically embalmed Christmas tree, I fully understood how difficult it must have been to accomplish and I understood what family means.

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