Sunday, May 29, 2011

* Memorial Day 2011

Billy, Eddie and Bobby:
Within the space of twelve houses in my tiny Mt. Carmel  neighborhood, three of my childhood pals were killed in Viet Nam, two of them brothers.

Billy Sanderson lived next door to me in the house behind mine, when I was growing up in Mt. Carmel, Connecticut.  

His parents had five children, the biggest house in the neighborhood, and a live-in maid.  No one else in our ordinary,  WW I and II  lower middle-class neighborhood had a live-in maid, or even an occasional housekeeper.  Billy's family  also had the first color TV set I ever saw. It was probably 1953-ish.

On Sundays my brother and I would go over to the Sandersons' to catch a ride to Sunday School.  Both our families attended the same church.  Billy was always reading the Sunday comics --in color --on the livingroom carpet when we arrived. 

He had to be called (yelled at) three or four times before he would leave the comics and head for the car.  Boy---could he concentrate.  He never even heard the screaming: "Billy, C'mon. Now!"

When I was about ten or eleven the Sandersons, who "had money," bought a motel in Aspen Colorado which they named the Aspenhof and moved away.

I never saw them again.

After  I went to college in 1964 my mother wrote me that Billy had been killed in the Viet Nam War, going back for his third or fourth Purple Heart.  He liked the military.

I'm not sure that Eddie and Bobby Hammerbacher, four houses down the street in the opposite direction from the Sandersons, liked the military.

They were handsome, athletic kids with no interest in or money for an academic future after high school.

The Draft sucked them both up,  I imagine, or maybe they enlisted. Or  maybe I'm wrong and they liked the military. 

They were both killed in Viet Nam, the only sons in that family.

We know now from the memoirs of then Secretary of State Robert McNamara, published when he was approaching 90,  that a lot of the Viet Nam War was unnecessary----and a lie.

Happy Memorial Day.

No comments: