Who Do I Remember?

Cross-posted at Adrastos:

David Kurtz andJosh Marshall started a Memorial Day meme at TPM and I decided to join in. The veteran I’d like to remember on this solemn holiday is Sgt. Eddie Couvillion.

Soldier Boy001

My family tree is far too tangled and gnarly to describe here but suffice it to say that Eddie was my second father. He served in Europe during World War II, not in combat but in the Army Quartermaster Corps. In short, he was a supply Sergeant, one of those guys who won the war by keeping the troops fed, clothed and shod. Eddie was what was called in those days a scrounger; not unlike Milo Minderbinder inCatch-22 or James Garner’s character inThe Great Escape.

Eddie’s favorite military exploit was running a army approved bordello in France after hostilities ended. He always called it a cat house and bragged that it was the best little whorehouse in Europe. One can serve one’s country in manifold ways…

Eddie died 5 years ago and I still miss him. He was a remarkable man because he changed so much as he aged. When I met him, he was a hardcore Texas/Louisiana conservative with old South racial views and attitudes. At an age when many people close their minds, Eddie opened his and stopped thinking of black folks as a collective entity that he didn’t care for and started thinking of them as individuals. Eddie was a genuine Southern gentleman so he’d never done or said an unkind thing to anyone but confided to me that the only one he’d ever hurt by being prejudiced was himself. I was briefly speechless because we’d had more than a few rows over that very subject. Then he laughed, shook his head and said: “Aren’t you going to tell me how proud you are of me? You goddamn liberals are hard to satisfy.”

Actually, I’m easily satisfied. In 2004, Eddie had some astonishing news for me: he’d not only turned against the Iraq War but planned to vote for John Kerry because “Bush Junior is a lying weasel and a draft dodger.” That time he didn’t need to ask me if I was proud of him, it was written all over my face. It was the first and only time he ever voted for a Democrat for President.

I salute you, Sgt. Couvillion. I only wish that I could pour you a glass of bourbon on the rocks and we could raise our glasses in a Memorial Day toast.

4 thoughts on “Who Do I Remember?

  1. this year, more the Gumm’s in the family who served. my grandfather’s 2 that served in the pacific because HBO. i didn’t know bob well. he was a marine.
    i wish i knew the name of my grandma’s cousin who died. the only one who didn’t come back.

  2. The Clemmer boys, the Caswell boys (there was a whole company composed of Caswell brothers and cousins), and the Luman boys. Not all of them came back from World War II, Korea, and the ‘Nam. Oh, and the Luman boy who did come back from Desert Storm — glad you’re home, little brother.

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