Six months ago, I was about to turn 80, or as my family likes to call this birthday a decade transition. My youngest sister, who hosted my mother’s 80th birthday celebration wanted to know what I was going to do about mine. My children wanted to know if there was anything I would like on my birthday. Normally, the family would have a party with all the brothers and sisters, children and grandchildren, and aunts and uncles with the number approaching 35 or 40 people. I am the oldest family member and the only person other than my wife who would be at a party who had one vaccination shot with the second one scheduled. COVID had changed a lot of family gatherings, and this would be no exception.
I would like to tell you a war story, one from someone who’s never set foot in a warzone. It is not a story about a battlefield, nor is even from my time in the service. It is a story about my summer vacation, and it is about the Weight of war. It is a heavy story, yes, but I’d like to share it with you, and ask that you help me carry it.
One year ago, I accepted an invitation to the graduation ceremony of the Providence Clemente Veterans Initiative. As each graduate spoke, I was in awe of what PCVI meant to them. What caught my attention was the ease of connecting their military experiences with different aspects of the curriculum, the humanities. I was on the edge of my seat, grasping onto every single word as they expressed their gratitude for this course.
Last month I was in Williamsburg, VA with my family. I wanted to see the Virginia War Museum and what was remaining of the civil war monuments. While in the museum I fell and ended up on the marble floor. My son-in-law and the museum staff eventually got me in a wheelchair and out to my car, but I soon realized that I couldn’t communicate with the lower part of my left leg. At the emergency room, it was determined that my injury was the result of a catastrophic failure of the quadricep tendon of my left leg. I went through surgery. The day after I was feeling out of sorts and complaining of chest pains and it was determined that I had a heart attack.