1948 was an interesting year. Harry S. Truman beat out Thomas Dewey, Strom Thurmond, and Henry Wallace to become the President of the United States. The cost of living looked like this: Car= $1,550, Gas= 26 cents/gal, House=$13,500, Bread=14 cents, Milk 86 cents/gal, Postage=3 cents, Avg Salary= $3,600, and minimum wage was 40 cents/hr. At that time only 1 in 10 Americans had seen at TV much less owned one. Things founded that year: Porsche and Nascar. Columbia Records put out their vinyl records, 33 1/3 rpm. TS Eliot wins the Literature Nobel Prize. Warner Brothers play their first color reel–The Tournament of Roses Parade. The Cleveland Indians take the Boston Braves to win the World Series, 4 games to 2. Born that year: John Ritter,Teller, Billy Crystal, Al Gore, Charles, Prince of Wales, and Royce Edsel Eddleman.
No, many of you wouldn’t recognize the last name written. So let me introduce you to this gentleman. He wasn’t an actor, a magician, singer, or baseball star, he was and is a son, brother, uncle, and friend. He was the first child born to Harvey and Onnie Eddleman– Royce Edsel Eddleman made his appearance into this world on Friday, January 16, 1948.
As a child growing up into his teenage years his mom, fondly remembers her son for the fun loving guy he was. He would be seen at times doing hand stands, walking on his hands, doing cart wheels, flips, or jumping over fences. Though he enjoyed putting together models, he was also a sportsman. Edsel, as he was known to many, would go on to letter in both track and football in high school. But his mom always admired the way her son would take up for anyone being bullied. He was a good son, with a kind heart. And like with most children the years would pass too quickly and that toddling little boy, (too) soon had grown into a man.
So let’s fast forward to 1968–It wasn’t a surprise when he joined the Army Airborne Division and took the rank of Spec 4 Eddleman. He answered the call of duty, and was soon deployed to Vietnam.
Meanwhile back home:Nixon triumphs over Hubert Humphrey, and George Wallace to become the President. (and we all know how that ends) The cost of living looked like this: Car=$2,822, Gas=34 cents/gal, House=$24,700, Bread= 22 cents, Milk= $1.07, Postage= 5 cents, Avg Salary= $5,572, Minimum wage= 1.60/hr. Founded that year: 911 telephone service line, and Red Lobster. The first ATM machine is built. The Detroit Tigers slide past the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series, 4 games to 3. Planet of the Apes, and Bonnie and Clyde are popular movies that year. The Big Mac rolls out for 49 cents and Boeing’s 747 takes its maiden voyage. Born that year: Will Smith and Celine Dion.
All of these things are just glimpses of things this year might be known for and wouldn’t necessarily make an impression on one’s long term memory. Though there would be an event that would change the lives of many–Spec 4 Eddleman, in service to his country, while defending others on that foreign soil, paid the ultimate price for freedom. He was a decorated soldier at only 20 years old.
It’s hard to put into words what a mother goes through when she gets news that her son won’t be returning from war. I suppose it’s a hurt that never really heals. I can’t imagine carrying a child, giving birth, rearing him into an honorable young man, and losing him to war– I am sure it is not something one ever gets over, or “time” ever heals. And it shouldn’t be that way either. You don’t simply get over a child you love, but learn to live a new way in their absence. You can’t even begin to put into words what you miss about him, his mom shared with me.Though she’d like her son to be most remembered for the way that he lived his 20 years here: Live your life like Edsel did, with passion, bravery, and competitiveness. And don’t take for granted those moments when your little boy calls you “mama.” What we take for granted or times we think are minor annoyances in our busy lives with little ones afoot, become treasured memories.
So this Memorial Day, I want to honor the memory of SPEC 4 ROYCE EDSEL EDDLEMAN~ thank you sir for your bravery in service and sacrifice, defending others on our behalf. Though you served in a war that was started 7 years after you were born, and ended 7 years after your sacrifice, your life and service will never be forgotten. We also, honor your mother,Mrs. Onnie Eddleman. What a fine son she raised and has so much to be proud of in. A mother’s love surpasses anything I’ve ever known, and in her personal grief, I see her strength and am humbled by it. What a fine lady she is, I can only imagine what it would have been like to have known you in person.
To the Eddlemans and other Gold Star Families as well as those actively serving, may I say on behalf of my family to yours, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE AND SACRIFICE! WE ARE TRULY GRATEFUL FOR ALL THAT YOU DO! May we never forget the brave men and women of our Armed Forces.