Bambi doesn’t heal a broken heart

By MaryHelen Swanson, editor

The busier you get, the less time you spend thinking about your childhood, until days like Memorial Day come around. I place before you the name Bruce L. Truhler, found on a section of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

He was my cousin and we were very close. He was an integral part of my childhood.

Like many young men in the ‘60s, he enlisted in the Army and was proud to serve his country.

He came from a background of men who had done so before him, his father and his uncle both served in World War II.

As smart as the two older men looked in their uniforms in the ‘40s, in photos that now have ragged edges, so too did Bruce look in his uniform. But smart looking doesn’t keep you alive.

I try to remember the days of that war, because Bruce was not the only close family member sent overseas. But I was a young first-time mother when these young men were leaving the airport in Minneapolis. On the radio, The Lovin’ Spoonful was screaming hot town, summer in the city.

My days were filled with diapers and formula, my nights were spent trying to calm a crying infant.

What was happening a half a world away was not a priority. Sure, the nightly casualty reports on the TV news brought it home and I’d briefly pause for a prayer for my cousin and the others.

When the news came, it was difficult to comprehend. The funeral was difficult, there was only a flag-draped casket. A childhood buddy lay inside and I was never going to be able to see him again.

Do you know they were showing the movie “Bambi” at the time of his funeral? My husband and I, in a desperate attempt to lay aside the tragedy for a few brief moments, went to the Rose outdoor theater to see that Disney film.

Now, Bambi does not heal a broken heart, and even today, when I watch it, I remember that day in July 1968, when we put Bruce in the ground in Elmhurst cemetery in St. Paul. The grass often grows over the edges of his stone, and the big tree that used to shelter his grave is gone. Once a year I go there to visit family members all resting at that site. I gaze at Bruce’s name…  and remember.

Who will you remember this Memorial Day?

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