They say you're not supposed to. But everyone probably does it - have favorites that is, especially regarding family members, whether it's children, parents, etc. In my case, it's an Uncle, an Uncle that just passed away on December 5th at the grand old age of 87. Uncle Fred Lee.
Born Robert Fred Lee in College Park, Georgia, he could trace his roots back to good stock as in the Robert E. Lee line of Civil War fame. When World War II broke out he, like millions of other young American boys, volunteered to do his part. He joined the Marine Corps and shipped out to Camp Pendleton in California, no doubt the farthest he had ever been from his farm home in Georgia.
His first stop was the Guadalcanal, a bitter battle with unspeakable horrors. He then went through all the other killing fields like Pelelieu and Okinawa. He was bayoneted through the leg, and also lost his brother who served in the Navy. Upon returning home he married my mom's oldest sister Dorothy, and then started a family and a grading business.
My first memories of Uncle Fred are how gentle a spirit he had, and his grand sense of humor. Like all little boys who play war and think it's nothing more than getting up and dusting yourself off after getting "shot", I was fascinated by him having served in combat and pestered him with questions about the war. He took the constant barrage of questions with grace, but now that I think about it, it had to dredge up memories he'd have best left buried. Memories of friends lost, of death and destruction, of hardship and loss.
I'm so proud to have had the honor of being his nephew, and to see how he lived his life and loved his family despite all the pain and suffering he had to endure at such a young age. His memory will be with me always, and my thoughts and prayers are with my Aunt Dorothy and cousins Ann, Stanley, and Bobby in their time of grief. I'm sure that:
When he arrived at the pearly gates
to Saint Peter he did tell,
one more Marine reporting sir,
I've served my time in hell.
Rest in peace Uncle Fred. I love you and miss you.