On this Memorial Day 2018 I bring honor to all those who have given their lives for our freedom. I, specifically, bring honor to my second cousin, Lewis Hood. Lewis was my dad’s cousin, making him my second cousin. He was killed in the Argonne Forest in France at the very end of World War I! Of course I never met him. He was killed on October 10, 1918. My dad was only ten years old! But Dad admired him and was looking forward, along with the rest of the family, to Lewis coming home from the war.
I was a little girl when I first got to know my cousin, LJ. He was already a man. I probably saw him before he was married, but I don’t remember. I do remember his brown, thick, wavy hair!
I do remember him after he was married. We were living in Oklahoma and were visiting family in Iowa. LJ and Ermadel were newly-weds. My mother, being a wise and patient woman, talked to us children, before we arrived at our grandparents house: “LJ’s wife has a birthmark on her face. You’re not to stare at her. You’re not to ask what it is. LJ loves her and the mark doesn’t matter to him. So just remember that when you see her. She’s a wonderful person.”
I learned two things that day. 1.) I learned what a good man LJ was! He loved Ermadel for who she was and probably didn’t even see the flaw on her face, even though he knew it was there. 2.) I learned what a loving and wise person my mother was! Preparing us ahead of time saved a lot of nervous embarrassment for LJ and Ermadel, and for us.
There is something else I’ve always remembered about LJ. He always smiled at me with a tender, loving smile! When I think back, all those years ago, that’s the main thought that comes to me! I would shyly smile back. Today, I think he probably was thinking and hoping for a little girl to be born to him and Ermadel! A few years later, Iris, and then Keith were born to them. I think LJ and Ermadel must have been very loving parents!
LJ’s dad and my dad were brothers, making LJ and me cousins.
My parents became born-again Christians when I was about two years old. They were the only ones born again in both of their families and were very often ridiculed by their siblings. But in 1948 LJ made a life-changing decision to live for Christ. A special bond was formed between LJ and my dad.
Years went by and LJ and I hardly had contact with each other, but being cousins, we still had that bond between us. A couple of years ago another cousin, Erma, died, and my daughter and son-in-law, Pam and Gene, drove Jerry and me to Iowa to attend her funeral. Who else was there? LJ with his daughter, Iris. We’d not seen each other in years!
Then last year we had a cousins reunion in Iowa. LJ and I had a time, just for the two of us, to visit and reminisce about our lives. I told him about his smiles when I was a little girl and how much they meant to me. He didn’t even remember! But I do! I took this picture of him during our little visit. He was 90 years old!
There was a sign on his door of the nursing home he was living in. I was surprised to see the date of when he was born-again! I don’t know why I was surprised…after all, that’s the most important date in a Christian’s life! LJ died on November 23, 2015 at age 91. I’ll see him again…some day!
Memorial Day. “Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.” Wikipedia.
This is my second cousin, Louis Hood. He proudly served our country in World War I, over in France. The story is that on the last day of the war, he was killed. In fact, I’ve heard the war was actually over that day but the men out in the field hadn’t gotten the news yet. How sad. My dad was a young boy at the time and was waiting anxiously for his cousin to come home from the war. The news was devastating to the family.
I would love to go to France and search the war cemeteries for his tombstone. But whether I ever get to do that or not, I honor Louie as my dad called him. I’m proud to be a relative of his.
Every family had someone in the war, back during World War II.
There were others as well, but these were the ones we were close to. They all came home for which we’re very thankful!
But a price was paid.
Bob came home with an illness and was hospitalized for months.
Uncle Richard was inducted into the US Army December 2, 1942 in Des Moines, Iowa. He trained at Camp Dodge in Des Moines. Uncle Richard served in the infantry in Africa, Italy and France. He was wounded in France in 1945 and received a Purple Heart with a Cluster. Uncle Richard was discharged from the US Army on July 18, 1945.
My grandma was first notified that my Uncle Richard was missing-in-action. Then she received word that he had been injured and was in a hospital. What a relief! Later, Grandma went to Texas to be with him.
One day our phone rang. Mother answered…it was Uncle Richard! He gently told my mother that he had lost both of his legs in France. Mother burst out crying. He assured her he would be okay. I remember the family being in shock. He was alive, but what kind of a life could he live, without legs? He came to visit once that I remember of. He was able to walk, with his cumbersome, new artificial legs, with the help of his cane. I remember being impressed that he could walk!
The next time I saw him was in Waterloo, Iowa at Christmas time, 1947. My family was now living in Covington, Oklahoma, and we had gone to Iowa for Christmas that year. Uncle Richard was living with my grandma. I remember Mother talking to my siblings and me, warning us to behave, to be quiet, not to play in his wheelchair, not to stare at his missing legs or at his artificial legs, etc. I do remember sitting in his wheelchair and even riding in it!
The US Government gave Uncle Richard a convertible with hand controls! If I recall, he traded it in every two years for a new one.
Uncle Richard enrolled in a business college and became a bookkeeper. He married Ruth and they had four children, two boys and two girls. They moved to Elysian, Minnesota, in 1954, living there until his death in 1993. He even became the mayor of Elysian!