Sunday, July 04, 2010

For Heros Proved In Liberating Strife

At some point every Independence Day, I think of Unclue Bud. It's usually a brief moment, long enough to miss an uncle I never knew, but it usually happend on this day. And Pearl Harbor Day, for some reason. He wasn't at Pearl Harbor, but if I see any flags at half mast, he comes to mind. He was going to be my topic for today's ramble, but my sister beat me to it. So I started to think about what I could write about instead...

Then I thought I'd just add to what she said. So, you might want to go back to that last paragraph and click the link to read what my sister had to say about Uncle Bud.

I've mentioned Uncle Bud several times on here, and maybe on a slow day I'll go search for those and link to them back here. Right now, I just want to add to what Ruth shared.

I didn't know a lot about Uncle Bud, or even register I had an uncle who died long before I was born. I may have been in college before I realized he died at Iwo Jima--I was never a big history buff, so it might not been until college that I actually got what "Iwo Jima" was. It's possible it was explained to me when I was younger--I say "possible" instead of "likely", as Uncle Bud wasn't a topic that came up a lot, other than when I'd see his picture at Grandma's house, or when I'd see a picture in a photo album. I just knew he died, and that was enough to make me think maybe I shouldn't ask a lot of questions.

I've mentioned before talking with Mom about him in Hardee's in Mexico, Missouri. It was just one of those conversations that stick with you (and I guess I have a lot of those, despite the fact I have many more I can't remember very clearly, but this one sticks with me in a different way). I guess it sticks with me because I finally got the courage to bring it up, or leap on something that segued into the topic of Uncle Bud.

In that conversation, Mom told me his nickname was pronounce "bood", not "bud". She never mentioned this to anyone else, and my Aunt Rachel has told me she never heard it pronounced like that. The story Mom told me was that when he was born, my aunt Deana Mae, who was very young at the time, said, "That's my boodley," instead of "That's my brother." So they called him "bood", spelled "Bud". Maybe Mom was misremembering, or maybe that nickname came and went before Aunt Rachel was born. Or maybe I've just lost it and made the whole thing up and can't remember doing so. It's a complicated universe. Anything is possible. At any rate, it's pronounced "bud" by everyone in my family now.

She told me she thought we would have got along well. When I pressed her for an explanation, she just said we both had a good sense of humor, and trailed off so I didn't hear any other explanation beyond that. We'll never know, of course.

His birthday was 9 days after mine. He would have been 41 when I was born, but only for those 9 days. About the time I'd have been old enough to start forming memories of him, he would be the age I am now. He died less than a month after his 20th birthday, so I guess it's a moot point. It's just I sometimes like to think about that other universe (or set of universes... universi?)where I knew him in person.

When I was doing some research on this a while back, I came across a scanned page that gave me more information than I had before. He was in the 28th Regiment, and his rank was PhM3C (Pharmacist's Mate, 3rd Class). It went on to explain what that rank meant in more detail, but I can't find that page now. Essentially he was attached to the Marines, but not a Marine. I can't remember if he was Army or what.

Mom told me about a man who was there when Uncle Bud died coming to visit the farm, as mentioned in Ruth's post... and Rachel told me all about it when I was over at her house one of the times I was up in Omaha since I did my online search. The two stories of how he died were completely different, but in the end it's all the same: he was shot and killed.

One of the things I found in my search for him was a reference to him in a book about Iwo Jima. That is how we all learned about him being part of the small patrol that first went up Mount Suribachi, ahead of the 40-or-so others who came up the next morning. I think about how that volunteer session went down. I wonder if my uncle figured it was climbing, and climbing was something you do in rural areas, so how hard could it be, right? You know, beyond the people trying to kill you and stuff.

Or maybe it was totally different. Whatever the case, he was gone just over a week later. But he did that. My uncle did that. Maybe it wasn't single-handedly stopping the war or saving 100 people, but it's still such an awesome thing to imagine.

Anyway, that's what I have to add about the uncle I never met. Aunt Rachel shared other stuff with me: stories of how he'd carry her back when he went to get the mail and she went with him, a textbook he had in high school... But it all just makes me wish we had the technology to at least view the past.

The title of this post is from "America the Beautiful". I love that song and wish it was our National Anthem--but nobody is consulting me on it, so I'll keep wishing. I just thought it would be an appropriate title for my contribution to this theme of "What I know about Edwin Earl "Bud" Hickerson".

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