This is a story of my family. My grandmother, Marie, was born on a farm in Petasky, Michigan. She had 5 brothers and 4 sisters. She moved to Wisconsin as a bride and died in 1952 at age 67 in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. My mother kept in touch with several of her brothers and sisters. One of these was her Uncle Charlie who had moved to Rapid City South Dakota. In 1956 when I graduated from high school and my brother graduated from grade school my mother took us by train and then bus to visit the Black Hills, Yellowstone Park, and her Uncle Charlie.
I had heard about her Uncle Charlie over the years. He and his 1st wife Kate had never had children. Then in his 60's they were divorced and he married his second wife, the young Kate. Kate had been a nurse in the Korean War. Her 1st husband had been a pilot who was killed in that war. She had a son, Alan, from that marriage. Kate and Uncle Charlie also had a son, of course, named Charlie. Charlie had red hair and freckles, was rambunctious and looked like "What me worry?" This great gift to Uncle Charlie so late in his life became his life. Alan was 9 and Charlie was about 5 when my mother, brother, and I visited this family.
Many years after this visit I heard that Charlie, the great gift to my mother's Uncle Charlie, was killed in Vietnam. My prayers went out to Uncle Charlie in his grief and Kate who had suffered such a loss in the Korean War.
When the Vietnam War Memorial was installed in Washington D. C. an accompanying "Moving Wall" went on tour. The replica was true to the original, a long rambling wall of black with the names of those that sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War. A soldier stood on guard with eyes on the wall. This "Moving Wall" came to Vancouver in 1988 and was mounted in Sunset Beach Park. It was here that I visited the "Moving Wall". I approached the soldier on guard who took me to the spot where "Charlie Reberg" was carved into the black surface. I touched his name and thought of the little five year old with red hair and freckles and his parents who adored him. And I prayed for them and all the other parents who had such a loss.
In 1998 the US Government offered rubbings of the names of those on the wall on request. I gratefully received a copy of "Charlie Reberg" as it appears on "The Wall". It can be seen in the photo below.
Each Memorial Day, I remember. I remember the sparkle in Uncle Charlie's eyes as he watched his five year old Charlie play in the front yard of their Rapid City home. I remember that quietness of 9 year old Alan that seemed to reflect the death of his father in the Korean War. I think of the grief of young Kate and her double sacrifice. And I pray for all the other families that have made this sacrifice. Let us remember.
Photo: Taken of Suzanne Wilson's copy of "Charlie Reberg's" name on the Vietnam Memorial, "The Wall."