FORT LEE, Va. (December 8, 2011)-For the past several years up to the present, I have been more reflective of the people whose paths I have crossed. I especially think about those from my childhood years. I was born in the '50s, a second-round baby boomer; thus my formative years were impacted by a post-war mentality that was also influenced by the Veterans Administration Hospital just a half-a-block away. My dad was a manual arts therapist at the VA. In these post-war years, many disabled vets lived at the hospital or on the grounds in government-provided housing.
At the end of my block in a corner house, in the shadow of the VA, was a family that I knew. They had a daughter just slightly older than me, and she was my childhood playmate. She had a younger brother, and her mom was very kind. I did not see too much of her dad since, like most post-war dads, he was a busy man. But I do remember him and my retrospective view was that he was a man of focus and determination; he was joyful, mellow and somewhat thin and frail.
Around about my second grade year, the Lowman family moved away to Florida. Not many years after they moved, we got word that Mr. Lowman had died. I was sorry to hear this and wondered how the family would carry on without their dad and husband. My own dad informed me that the family would be provided for since Mr. Lowman was a veteran and also a survivor of the Bataan Death March.
Many years later, the advent of the internet and search engines provided me the opportunity to contact Mrs. Lowman. I learned more about her husband. After he left the VA, he worked for the government for the Cherokee people in North Carolina. In this and other positions, he was a staunch advocate for the welfare of others, even in the face of much opposition. I wonder whether his selfless service was a tribute to those who marched beside him as far as they were able or in grateful acknowledgement to God that he lived to serve others
It was Jesus who taught, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." That is what many brave veterans have done in life and in death. "Mr. Lowman, I once only knew you as my playmate's father, the man on the corner, but now I know much more and you are not forgotten."