Honoring a Family Hero on Memorial Day

In honor of Memorial Day, I am re-publishing this post I wrote about my mom’s cousin, who ferried soldiers to the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.

I always knew him simply as Cousin Del, even though he was actually my mom’s cousin, not mine. He never married and took care of his mother until her death. After my family moved to Minnesota (in the 1970’s) he would turn up at various family functions. He was a pleasant (but quiet) man, with a witty sense of humor.

After his mother died, he stopped coming to family events and became a bit of a recluse. At first he would take phone calls from his cousins, but in recent years had even stopped doing that. Dropping by his home to say hi was definitely not appreciated. The cousins would occassionally drive by his house to see if the lights were on and the lawn mowed, 2 things that would indicate he was OK.

Cousin Del passed away last fall, and the few remaining relatives and friends gathered at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery last month for an interment ceremony.

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In the last visit my mom, her sister, and a cousin had with him he told them (for the first time ever) that he had been captain of a landing craft on D-Day. All day long he transported soldiers from the ships to the beaches, back and forth, knowing that many of them were disembarking to their deaths, and knowing that he could be shot as well. This would have been his view.

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The recluse cousin, it turns out, was a hero.

Thank you, Cousin Del.

Thanks to all who have served (and are serving).

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Keeping Watch

You may have seen this amazing photo making the rounds this Memorial Day weekend. It was taken at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, here in the Twin Cities, the same cemetery where my father was laid to rest.

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Our local newspaper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune told the story of this photo in an article published on Saturday:

Amateur photographer Frank Glick was on his way to work when he drove through Fort Snelling National Cemetery early one morning. He spotted a bald eagle through the mist, perched on a gravestone, and snapped shots with his aging but ever-present camera.

Nice shot, he thought.

An acquaintance saw the photo and suggested that he see if the deceased soldier had any living relatives who might want it. Indeed, Maurice Ruch’s widow was alive and well and delighted to receive a copy of the eagle watching over her beloved husband.

You can read the entire article here.

Remembering with much gratitude those who have fallen to keep us free.

Image credit: Frank Glick, via StarTribune