Sunday, May 30, 2010

Once...

He was twelve once. With a grin as big as the classroom he sat in, he'd rather hold a football than a girl's hand. I think he laid awake at night figuring out ways to torment the teacher. Once at school, he carried out his plans, bringing his friends Barry and Kris along for the ride.

His favorite ploy was to get the teacher off the subject. He'd ask about her children...try to get information about her love life, grinning all the while. One day the teacher saw him throw a football the length of the middle school field and thought This is a very special young man.

Brian Anderson was a special young man indeed. Continuing on to high school, he became a football and wrestling star. His infectious smile permeated the high school classrooms, football field, and wrestling mat. "A real character" is how his football coach described him. "Never a dull moment with Brian around," he said.

After high school he enlisted in the Marine Corps and asked to be among the first of the troops to descend on Iraq in 2003. He didn't want his buddy, who had orders to go, to be alone. He kissed his mother goodbye and traveled halfway across the world...only to lose his life on April 2, 2003. By then he was a man, but to his teacher, he was still twelve and sitting in that last seat in the middle row...


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He was in his early twenties once. He grew up on a farm in a rural North Carolina county, digging in the soil that produced the meals for his mother, four sisters, and two brothers. He was the oldest, the man of the family. A good-looking guy, he had a smile that made some country girls swoon.


Riddick Blackwood joined the Army in August of 1944, taking the same course as so many men in those days. He reported to Germany, leaving a young wife behind, to travel to a country he'd only heard about, a land altogether different from his rural homeplace.

He would lose his life in the single largest and bloodiest battle of World War II, the Battle of the Bulge. The War Department would deliver an official message to his wife and mother, and he would be buried in Holland. His family was never able to bring him home, focused now on his two brothers still serving - Truett, who was lying wounded in an English hospital and Bob, stationed in India.

Riddick Blackwood would never meet his nephew (his baby sister's boy) or his nephew's wife who thinks about him often...especially on days like today.

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Thank you, Brian and Riddick, for what you represent and for what you sacrificed. I continue to pray for the peace that you died for.

4 comments:

Jane said...

Beautiful tributes Cindi.

The Mommie said...

Thanks! for sharing and caring!

Nancy Flanagan said...

Thanks, Cindi. It's not always about the policy, the practice, the problems. But,in fact, it's always about the people. Lovely tribute, eloquently written.

Heather said...

Wow. Such beautiful words, and so beautifully submitted. I am only a substitute teacher for now, but I see students now that I had the first year I subbed and see how much they have grown, and they are still tweens and early teens to me. I think its wonderful how students become such a part of teachers lives.