February 25, 2006

Why I Write and Publish Here

Gerard Van der Leun, 1942

FROM MY EMAILl this morning:

Because my age and view of the world are similar to yours, I was especially moved by the essay you wrote a couple of years ago on your uncle Gerard Vanderleun and the family fuss about your name.
[ The Name in the Stone ]

I sent it then to my two sons (26 and 28) with a comment to the effect that that was how young men like me in the 1960's looked at our parents' world in our oblivious way.

I was on a business trip with one of my sons to New York last Tuesday.  While we were passing time in Battery Park before a meeting, my son remembered the essay and wanted to look for your uncle's name on the monument.

Still there, too tall to touch.

Thank you for the essay and the moment with my son.

Gerard Van der Leun, 2002 (second from bottom)

Posted by Vanderleun at February 25, 2006 9:27 AM
Bookmark and Share



"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Thank you for this touching story. I come by your blog every now and then and find it excellent reading. Please keep up the good work.

I came by my name, Gerard, through my mother, an Italian immigrant to the U.S. at a very young age in the 1920's. I was her only birth child and because she was 40 years old and having difficulty with the pregnancy, she struck a bargain with Saint Gerard Majella, the patron saint of expecting mothers. Hence my name.

My father left the family when I was young and he was never much of a presence in my life. I have learned to forgive him for that and he is now gone from this earth (my mother is 85). But only in the last few years have I taken an interest in his military service in WWII. He enlisted in Flint, Michigan and served in the 69th Signal Batallion of the XX Corps in Patton's Third Army. I still have the famous "Good Weather Prayer" and Christmas greeting card issued to all the soldiers from Patton during the Battle of the Bulge. My mother's brother parachuted into Normandy with the 101st Airborne and was awarded the Purple Heart only five years ago. He fought in the hedgerows for days with a piece of a German grenade stuck in his leg.

At some point in our lives when we face struggle, real or imagined, we need stories like this to draw on to show how men can face down the most hideous evils and defeat them. Our hip and trendy culture devalues this, but I know you do not. Thank you.

Posted by: Gerard at February 25, 2006 10:05 AM

Gerard, once again I am reading this with tearfilled eyes, giving thanks for such men as your uncle. I saved this essay to share with my children and am pleased to see your uncle's photo to add another dimension. My grandson recently joined the air force, so this is especially touching at this time.

I marvel at your talent. Do you have any plans to publish a volume of your essays? Thank you for sharing your feeling so beautifully.

Posted by: Lois Jones at February 25, 2006 10:43 AM

Mr Van der Leun
There is a very poignant scene in "The Alamo", which, all in all, was not a very good movie. But nonetheless, the night before their final day, the defenders of the Alamo mission were sitting around the campfire, discussing their own dreams, thoughts and ideals. One of the men asks Davy Crocket (John Wayne) what he's thinking about. "Not thinking of anything, just remembering."
Your uncle, my father, many of his friends and men of his generation that I grew up around and that fought that awful, cruel, bloody war are gone, yet, it is up to we the living,... to remember.
...Lest we forget.

Posted by: David at February 25, 2006 11:37 AM

What frightens is how easily the momentous sacrifices are all forgotten!

Posted by: ChiefTestPilot at February 25, 2006 4:45 PM

"The Name in the Stone" was the posting that caused me to bookmark your blog, and I've been visiting regularly ever since.

Posted by: pst314 at March 1, 2006 10:52 AM