Pete's second newsletter - very touching
#1

My friend Peter, whom I spoken about before on this forum, just sent out his second newsletter. I wanted to share it with you because it left an indelible impression on me tonight. Children can hit really home and they do...

 

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Dear Friends,

 

 

Only a few days ago I sent out the first In-Honored-Glory Newsletter. In that newsletter I announced that there will be a second one within a few days. Well here it is ... It’s not like other newsletters you probably saw before, it’s not about changes to the website, it’s not about important announcements regarding the cemetery .... It’s about something that happened to me and I think it’s worth sharing with you ...

 

By now you probably know that I adopted a few graves of American soldiers who are buried at the cemeteries of Henri-Chapelle (Belgium) and Margraten (The Netherlands). What most of you don’t know is the fact that I also adopted two graves which are registered in the names of my sons, Rick & Tim. Back then Rick was three years and Tim was one year old. You can imagine that they didn’t have a clue what the adoption of a grave means and of course I never tried to explain for obvious reasons ...

 

 

On April 9, 2006 just three days after my 37th birthday I went to the American Military cemetery at Henri-Chapelle. Together with my wife Ellen, my sons Rick & Tim and my mother. As usual I visited the person who was on duty in the visitors centre and as usual my two sons started to look for the “Starsâ€. I guess I should explain that one ... We always tell them we go to “the Crosses & the Stars†and the little fellows are jumping up and down. On the cemetery they try to find every star of David (on the graves of Jewish soldiers) and they hug each and every star they can find ... They have no clue what they are doing, cause the eye of a child looks differently at those marble formations than we do ... at least Tim used to do so, until that April 9, 2006 ...

 

I went to “see†several soldiers that day ... Captain Howard Wall, Captain Harold Smith, the Ungar brothers and finally when my two sons were almost finished hugging Stars I decided to “say hello†to John Doxey ... John was a friend of Maury Johnson, who became very special to me and who did me the honour of staying at my home for a few days in September 2005, together with his wife Donna. During the past year I was privileged to get in touch with John Doxey’s family as well ... John & Bernadette (John’s sister) Vogt and Margaret Doxey (John’s twin)... Again very special people who will visit next month. I guess I can’t mention this contact without thanking Dorothy Colwell once again for her help. Without her there wouldn’t have been any contact at all !

 

On my way to John’s final resting place I noticed that the rest of my family was already finding their way to the Memorial, except for my youngest son Tim, he came running after me ... Of course I walked a bit slower and he gained ground ... When he reached me he asked me “Daddy, where are you going ?†I told him that I was going to see a friend of Maury and he asked me where that friend was ... We walked another thirty yards and we reached Plot F, Row 16, Grave 54 ... We were standing in front of Staff Sergeant John Doxey’s final resting place. Tim turned towards me and asked “Daddy, where is Maury’s friend ?†... I told him that this was the place where Maury’s friend was ... He looked around and just to be certain that his dad (and probably he himself wasn't nuts) he asked ... “What’s his name ?†... My answer was that his name was John ... and then I told him that John was dead ... dead like my father and his grandfather Piet, that he was in Heaven, in the clouds behind the stars ... “Why is he dead, Daddy ?†... I told him that there was a war and that people were fighting and a lot of people were killed ... The eyes of my 4-year old son looked at me in disbelief ... Was that John really here ? After all he couldn’t see him and again he asked “Is he dead because they were fighting ?†... And I told him that fighting is bad, that people can be hurt when they fight ... sometimes they can be hurt so bad that they die ... I stood there for a few minutes with Tim, thinking about John, about Maury and about John’s family ...

 

I decided to head back to the Memorial quickly ... Man, was I wrong ! Tim followed me and after a few yards Tim was stopping at Row 15 ... “Who is this Daddy ?†... I walked towards him and told him the name ... “Is he dead also ?†... of course I told him the same, that they were fighting and that this man was dead also, I told him that all the crosses and stars on this field represent men who were killed due that war, due to fighting and that they were all buried here ... I thought that will explain it to him, maybe he understands what I mean ... I think I was about two rows closer to the Memorial when Tim put me back on my feet again, cause Tim was staring at another Cross ... “Daddy who is this gentleman ?†... I went back and started one of my longest trips from the back of the cemetery to the Memorial of Henri-Chapelle ... We passed John, Robert, Benjamin, another John, William, Fred, Henry, Charles, Howard and many, many more ... With every name the tears were clouding up my eyes more and more ... Of course I tried to hide them from my son, after all how could I explain to him that his father was crying for people he couldn’t even see ... ? I never walked the cemetery realising the individual soldier’s fates so intense ... After a while we reached the Memorial, at that moment I guess about fifty people were at the cemetery and between all of this, Tim ran to his mother and shouted ... “Mama, mama ... all people are dead ...“

 

This trip made a huge impression on the little guy ... He talked about it for days ... He told each and every one who wanted to hear it that “all people are deadâ€. What he probably never will know is the fact that the experience he created for his dad that day was even bigger then the one he experienced himself ... never was I more aware of each individual fate of the men buried at Henri-Chapelle ...

 

Peter Heckmanns

Webmaster In Honored Glory website

http://www.In-Honored-Glory.info

Kerkrade, The Netherlands

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
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#2
:wacko: I tried to congratulate Peter on his news letter but my E-Mail was treated as Spam. I am on his mail list. In any event...Good Job, Peter...AL Kincer
Reply
#3

Al:

 

Many times newsletters don't allow replies. May be that Peter has his set up this way. He will see your message however right here. Thanks for posting!

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"
Reply


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