In observance of Memorial Day, I am featuring this illustration I produced for the Reader’s Digest. It is a portion of the Vietnam Veteran’s Wall in Washington, D.C., reflecting the silhouettes of visitors to the shrine.
My Dad and two uncles served in World War Two. They all survived. I consider theirs, truly, the Greatest Generation. My Dad, having become a lawyer, was assigned to an intelligence post in Washington. My uncles were more on the front lines in Europe. These two went on to run a successful restaurant in Freehold, New Jersey for many years. The establishment is still there, bearing their name, “Van’s Freehold Inn”.
My Uncle Marcel served as a Dental Assistant in London during those years. (He would say he could not stand having his hands in someone else’s mouth!) He was a massive comedic dry-wit, who used to spar verbally with my Dad over the dining room table, to our delighted amusement. His brother, Frank, was in charge of a cannon regiment that fought its way through battleground Europe. One story he told was of the night he and his men were holed-up in a barn in France. It rained all night, and his guys were exhausted. Around 3 a.m., the walkie-talkie came to life. It was his superior telling him to shift his position, immediately. Frank told his officer that if he wanted the cannon moved, he’d have to move it himself, and stayed put. He told me he was sure there would be repercussions for his insurrection, but they never came. Frank left us in 2006. I made a portrait of him as he appeared a few years before. I’ll always be in awe of him and his brother, and my Dad, for their service in those dire times.