The government didn’t give me a choice . . . I had to be brave!
April 1966 – From the President of the United States – “You are hereby ordered for induction into the Armed Forces of the United States” – a letter sent to my then boyfriend/fiancé. My prom and graduation were both scheduled for the month of May, and needless to say, graduation was a very sad event. Plus, I was the only senior girl at my high school who didn’t attend her Senior Prom.
May 2, 1966 – Soon to be father-in-law, mother-in- law, and (not yet) husband and I drove to Frankfort, Indiana. At 6:30 AM a bus drove in, parked, and the three of us cried as he got on as requested by the President of the United States. The next 2 weeks went by slowly because he couldn’t write any letters. Fort Knox, Kentucky, was his home-away-from home for the next six weeks.
Oh yeah, BRAVE! I just found out I was pregnant and my boyfriend had just been sent AWAY! Talk about brave!!! He wrote his parents and told them in a letter!!! But future in-laws were very encouraging about the situation. Now mind you, he could serve in the Army, but couldn’t get married without his parents’ signature because he was only 18 years old! So a trip to the county seat was made to have his parents sign a permission form for him to marry.
Fast forward – October 1966 – my then husband was going to Viet Nam. I was 6 ½ months pregnant and my husband was going to WAR!
While waiting at the Indianapolis airport, I couldn’t believe my husband was leaving me, pregnant and alone, and going to WAR. He was flying stand-by and I was hoping that he wouldn’t get a seat. But you know the rest of the story – the first available seat went to him because he was a soldier. I remember sobbing and hoping people would say he didn’t have to leave and that he could just stay with me. But that didn’t happen. I can’t say that I was very brave that day, but found out in the days following that I could and did show courage.
365 days passed. We both wrote. Our son was born in January, and my husband was notified by telegram that he had a daughter and only knew for sure when he received my letter that he actually had a son.
October 1967 – Our son is 9 months old. Telephone rings and in-laws want me to come to their house. I know something is up, but they are very secretive. But my little sister-in-law can’t keep her mouth quiet. My husband has called and he is back in the states and on his way home to all of us. He has flown into Chicago, hitchhiked to Lafayette, and a family from the local area has driven him to our hometown. When he comes into the house, he is only 126 pounds but he looks incredible!!! He is home!!!!
Forty- nine married years later, I look back at those times and know that I was brave, but I wasn’t as BRAVE as my husband. My little bit of courage doesn’t compare with our soldiers’. They are the ones that have to leave their families, plus put their lives on the line for our freedoms.
I was brave, but my husband and other soldiers are braver.
PS – Those letters are sealed with duct tape in a box that isn’t to be opened until after both of our deaths!!