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My brother running in the 5K Veterans Day Run in Kuwait

But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country,” when the guns begin to shoot;

When I was a little tyke I wanted to do everything my brother did. I called him “Wah Wa” because I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) learn how to pronounce his given name. Wah Wa was a year younger and loved cars, cowboys, baseball and football. (Especially his electric football game) When I was six and he was five we decided we wanted to learn to box. Our Dad put boxing gloves on both of us and my brother proceeded to punch my two front teeth out. I swallowed them so no tooth fairy came to visit that night. That was the end of my boxing career.

When I started first grade I couldn’t open the door to my classroom. Although my brother was only four years old, he had to escort me inside to open the door for me. Even though he was a year younger, he taught me to tie my shoes.

I got a new remote control car everytime my brother did and loved to play cars with him but he wasn’t quite as reciprocal when it came time to sharing a tea party. My brother would take the teacup I offered him, pour out the pretend tea, and then turn over the table. My Dad has that on tape.

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When we got older, along with the kids next door, we played Army out in the back woods. My brother was always the Captain and the other boys were always lower in rank. We built forts and I rode my horse, Scout bareback in an attempt to mess up their wars because somehow I didn’t quite fit in.

But when it came to sports I tried hard to keep up with my brother. I dressed up in his football uniform and played in one of his Boys Club football games. When my hair fell out of my helmet the coach took me out of the game.

I was faster than my brother until we were in junior high but then he grew a lot and I stayed the same size. My sports career, such as it was, disappeared. But my love of sports grew through watching my brothers and Dad play ball.

My brother played second base for Fort Smith’s Kerwins, the American Legion State Champs coached by the legendary (in our parts) Squeaky Smith.

Before Kerwins won the district tournament my brother, sister and I went on a church retreat to Lake Fort Smith. It was a very hilly place and I remember it was my job to keep an eye on my brother because the baseball tournament was beginning the next day. I did my best to keep up with him, staying up all night to find him and his buddies. I was unsuccessful. He was up all night long running around and nearly lost his starting spot as second basemen because he committed several errors in the opening game.

That streak of wildness didn’t show up much after that close call. My brother’s clutch playing contributed greatly to his teams’ success and one of the biggest thrills was watching my brother and his team win the state championship. He continued his baseball career in college.

My memories of that time are not as clear as I’d like so I don’t remember the year my brother enlisted in the Arkansas National Guard but I think it was sometime around 1971. He went through basic training out at Fort Ord, California. I remember once during the training he called home and it was obvious that he was very sick. I think that’s the only reason why he could call home. We were all so worried about him. But when he completed basic and was able to return home, it was obvious that military life agreed with him. He stayed at it and today is at the top of his career, Command Sgt. Major.

***But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day
.***

One very important aspect that I haven’t mentioned is the relationship between Wah Wa and our youngest brother, Guy. Even though there were eight years between them my brother was the best big brother to Guy. They played together when they were young. I’ll never forget the sight of them out in the yard on a rainy day, with yellow rainslickers on, playing football - barefoot.

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My brothers were always very close and are to this day. Guy followed in Wah Wa’s footsteps and joined the military. They deployed in the same unit to the Gulf War, the 142nd Field Artillery.

Our mother told us once when we were kids that we were more closely related through our blood to each other than to anyone else. That’s how we looked at each other. When one of us was hurting, all of us were. When my brothers went to war together not only were they fighting for their fellow troops, they were fighting for each other. They were their very own band of brothers.

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I can’t outrun him and wouldn’t even try today. I just stand in awe of his bravery and leadership. America is blessed with men such as my brother.

Happy Veterans Day to all veterans…… including my son who is serving proudly in Iraq, both my brothers who served in the Gulf War, my husband, whose thirty year Army career included a deployment to Somalia, my niece’s husband, who’s completing training as an Air Force pilot, my brother-in-law, a Marine, my youngest brother who is in the Army Reserves and deployed stateside after 911 and of course to my brother who is still running in Kuwait.

And those who went before us include my late father-in-law, C.C., my Uncle Max, my Uncle Ed, my Uncle Eddie, my Uncle Henry, and many other grand or great grandparents.

Butch Cecil died in Vietnam. In one of his letters to us he asked us to think of him whenever we drink a glass of cold water. Please remember Butch.

May God Bless all of America’s veterans today and always.

Congratulations to the Arkansas Razorbacks for their win over Tennessee tonight. Both my brother and my son will be very happy about that.

Project Valour-IT is a fantastic project that seeks to raise funds for Voice-Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops) In memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss. Please consider giving to this very important and worthy project.

UPDATE: This article at The American Thinker explains the transformation of a young man into a soldier…..and the adjustment parents go through when they watch their children grow into patriotic citizens. This really is a must read.

UPDATE ll: Jane has a wonderful tribute here.