Memorial Day

May 28, 2007

“Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.”
-Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.



Here’s to my dad.

He was in the 34th Infantry, “Red Bull Division” during the end of the second world war and the liberation of the concentration camps. I know this only because of the pictures I found after he died. They were kept in an old shirt box along with other items that led me to verify what I had already believed; that what happened to him during his length of service was life changing. They said he was not the same when he came home. How could he be?

He never talked about the war, but it was with him all the time.


Willi put the flag out in front of the house today. My dad would have expected that. My brother and I were taught early on to respect the flag, what it represented, and those who carried it into battle. This became a part of who I am and has stayed with me all these years.





I long for peace.

I think my dad did, too.


He was beside himself the day before our neighbor left for Vietnam. They had become friends while they built a retaining wall in the back yard. I watched as they shook hands before he left and I saw the look on my dad’s face as he walked across the street for the last time. I remember how it scared me.

Lance Corporal Bruce Wayne Staehli disappeared on April 30, 1968, near the city of Dong Ha, South Vietnam.

He’s still missing in action.


And here we are, Dad. We’re doing the same damn thing all over again.

Will we ever learn?

“Standing out here in the desert
Trying to protect an oil line
I’d really like to do my job but
This ain’t the country that I had in mind
They call this a war on terror
I see a lot of civilians dying
Mothers, sons, fathers and daughters
Not to mention some friends of mine
Some friends of mine”

– from “Twenty”, Robert Cray (2005)

The Eyes Wide Open exhibit is featured in Robert Cray’s music video commemorating the soldiers whose lives are taken by the Iraq war…

“Out of Iraq”

Indiana Rolling Thunder ”To Correct the Past and Protect the Future.”

14 Responses to “Memorial Day”

  1. mjd Says:

    You have written the perfect post for Memorial Day and a wonderful tribute to your father, to Lance Corporal Bruce Wayne Staehli , and to the other soldiers who have served our country by fighting in these wars.

    I long for peace too. When will we ever learn?

    Did you and Willi see the exhibit in Grant Park?

  2. Willi Says:

    I agree with mjd, “A Perfect Memorial Day post”.

  3. gawilli Says:

    Mjd – we did not see the memorial in Grant Park, although I did watch the documentary on WTTW yesterday afternoon. It must be breathtaking in person.

    For years after my dad died we went with my mom to the cemetary and stood over his grave while the preachers preached, the high school band played, and the guns fired the salute. Everyone cried. I just don’t have the heart for it anymore. We fly our flag and we remember. My dad would like that. And we spend the day with our family. He would have liked that, too. I think all of the soldiers and their families would.

    Thanks, Willi.

  4. Cazzie Says:

    I cannot see any more through my teary eyees. My pop was the same as your dad, he never spoke of the war, he longed for peace. The war affected him greatly, post war tramatic syndrome. He was always walking off to the hospital to be admitted because of it.
    I love him, miss him, am forever greatful for the sacrifice he made for us, his grandchildren, to be able to walk freely around our country here. Less we all be speaking Japanese as a first language.
    Also, it is not without thanks, he only thin my pop ever did say, was that without the Americans coming on over in their boats and us all helping each other…we would certainly be speaking Japanese first language.
    God bless the USA, and the men and women currently serving (both from Australia and USA), I hope they all return to loving arms.

  5. debi Says:

    Such a loving post. As I read I could hear Peter Paul and Mary singing. It makes me sad and it makes me proud. This war seems different. Thank you for your kind letter to me.

  6. milkandhoney Says:

    I just realized how much I look like your dad. I never noticed before that we have the same cheeks and one down-slanty eye. Huh.

  7. A wonderful post for Memorial Day. Peace on Earth is my prayer.

  8. Tink Says:

    There couldn’t be a more fitting post.

    Beautifully said my friend.

  9. daddy d Says:

    Great posting. Where do you go when you are all used up? Great question. We have got to stop using up lifes.

  10. Dr. Don Says:

    My father served in WW2, I served during Viet Nam and my son served during the first Gulf War. Although I never knew Sgt Bruce W. Staehli, I have worn an MIA bracelet with his name on it since 1969. It is quite bruised and battered but I would give anything I have to personally hand it to him should he eveer return. I feel close to him and will never forget.

  11. Will Person Says:

    I lost my Uncle Hank Norman USMC in Khe Sanh 1968

    My Dad and I try to make the Khe Sanh Reunion every year.

    If the Staehli family would like the Bruce Staehli bracelet back, I have it in my possession and would be honored to get it back to those family members.

    Will Person
    Austin, Texas

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  13. Chaplain Terry Tilander Says:

    If any of the Sgt. Bruce W. Staehli relatives see this, please contact me,

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