BORN ON THE 12 OF NOVEMBER

In Memorium to All G. I. Donalds, Joes, Clydes, Franks, Jacks, Roberts, Steves...

Updated 5 years ago by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Symbolically, model Lauren Littlepage places flowers on the grave  of greatest generation veteran, Donald Rutherford, who, like she, was born on Nov. 12.
Symbolically, model Lauren Littlepage places flowers on the grave of greatest generation veteran, Donald Rutherford, who, like she, was born on Nov. 12.
Photo by Jeff Hedgecock

Three or four times annually we remember those who served in the Armed Forces, be it the Army, Navy, Marines, or Air Force, from a private first class to an airborne decorated "hero" or a distinguished Army career.

Veterans Day takes us back to the memorials , to the battle memories, and to individuals who passed, either during the war or after living to be known as the greatest generation.

For this reason, our photo focuses not on a parade, speech, or a crowd, but one final resting place.

Dad survived the Battle of the Bulge and decades of service at the Huntington Veteran's Hospital.

In Memorium to All G. I. Donalds, Joes, Clydes, Franks, Jacks, Roberts, Steves...

His path to dying came with horrendous mixed signals. I conferred with an out of state nurse via email who provided a second opinion. Our just defeated Congressman Nick Rahall cooperated on a possible last mission --- the physicians at a local hospital conjectured a long passing period. After examining his records, those at the VA thought he might have a chance. So, an honorable mission would be to transfer him to the Huntington VA to recover, rest or pass. It was a location with which he was  familiar.

The "mission" did not occur. A nurse started talking about extraordinary life preservation at a quicker pace. A decision not to use it after seeing him hooked up then brought removal and a shot. Hospice transferal was recommended. I asked too many questions of the chaplain ; he didn't come back or talk later at dinner. The scene seemed rehearsed.  The nurse became upset because the post death process of goodbye lasted too long. She had to get him ready for the toe tag and the arriving funeral home.    WAS THERE SOMETHING WRONG HERE? But, refusal of a second opinion had my movie caper mind soaring --- redirect any hospice ambulance to the Medical Center in Spring Valley. They had agreed to accept him per the Congressman.

All the talk of dying wasn't supposed to happen. The discussion had been a two week stay for IV antibiotics to clear up a leg infection and provide supportive water therapy. No talk then of hospice, dying or any risks.

Unable to emotionally handle a visit to his grave for years  after the funeral (my minister kept me emotionally shielded from the burial process)  , my aging mom years later gave me a fearful memorial day  mission to leave the flowers.

In Memorium to All G. I. Donalds, Joes, Clydes, Franks, Jacks, Roberts, Steves...

With the help of several friends, the photo above came about. A beautiful woman placing flowers on an unnamed vets grave (symbolically representing all those in the ground ) had more in common with the setting than realized. Sure, her late grand father was an war hero, but she helped pass a torch. She placed flowers on the grave of a greatest generation soldier born on November 12. It's the same day that she lights candles. One day after Veterans Day. Two days before the Marshall Memorial for those who perished in the plane crash.

Thus, the photo serves as a passing of the torch of responsibility... to look after those who have gone before and those who follow. Thus, the next setting places the young woman beside the war memorial flag somberly honoring all those who served.

TRIBUTE TO A LIFE SAVER

Prior to the vets passing, an irishsetter described by mom as "did you have to bring home a horse," saved dad's life.

Danny shared the car with Donald. He  would claim the entire back seat. You quickly began bleeding green --- you loved the squirrels, the stolen ice cream cones, and a co-eds tennis shoes for which she came running from behind to reclaim. That was a time when anyone who requested received a stress breaker by patting your head. Everyone complemented your beauty and called you a ‘pup,’ at 100 plus pounds.

In Memorium to All G. I. Donalds, Joes, Clydes, Franks, Jacks, Roberts, Steves...

One night I half turned in sprawled on a bed in my room. You came yelping, squirming and shoving determined that I answer your call. You did not lead me to the back door, instead, you lead me to one mostly shut. A faint voice asked for “help” and on the other side dad fought a losing battle to stop a bleeding vein from his sore leg.

EMS arrived and you stood your ground. You saved a life, but then later, I didn’t know how to save yours.

Times became more difficult once dad flew away. He joined the other setters walking them from the bridge to Heaven’s gate --- oh, and that one mixed breed Husky who would never stay in the yard. We couldn’t go chase squirrels as no one would drive us to the green campus. You used to be groomed every few months or so. You’d come romping in with two ribbons tied in your soft, red hair. No one to drive meant less trips to the salon.

In Memorium to All G. I. Donalds, Joes, Clydes, Franks, Jacks, Roberts, Steves...

BIOGRAPHY DONALD RUTHERFORD: The authentic photos come from Germany. They were smuggled home. Their contain his war legacy. Born in 1922, he served in Germany building bridges and clearing concentration camps. When he worked at the VA, he had a special relationship with then director Dr. Lyon. It was during the Cold War. Lots of rehearsing of fallout and bomb shelters for nuclear survival. He volunteered for a fallout shelter rehearsal where he and other volunteers stayed in a shelter in the basement of the recreation hall.

 http://archives.huntingtonnews.net/obit/080317-rutherford-donaldrutherford/index.html

SPECIAL THANKS Lauren Littlepage (model, happy birthday!); Jeff Hedgecock (photographer); Leo Pniewski (driver).

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