Touching Worlds and Histories

New_Jersey_Vietnam_Veterans_Memorial

“This man knew Grandpa Reggie.” Tyrell’s mom tells him as she sits him down with his big cousins. He doesn’t know why mom calls him Grandpa Reggie. He is only seven but even he knows he wasn’t her dad, even though he was Aunty Melody and Uncle Travis’s dad. Grandpa Maurice was her daddy, but somehow everyone wants him to know about Grandpa Reggie, so he guesses it must be important.

The guy looks like Timmy, or Tucker, or Huy, the Asian kids at school. Kenny and Dig tell him he shouldn’t talk to them because they’re Korean but Sherese tells them they’re dummies, that Timmy and Tucker are Chinese and Huy is Vietnamese and they’re all Asian and that it doesn’t matter, and Tyrell just shrugs and plays with who he wants to. This guy looks like them though and he starts talking and he is smiling kind of sad like Aunt Melody does when she talks about the baby he never met.

He tells them about Sergeant Reginald LaCroix. He tells them about this American Soldier from a place called Louisiana (Tyrell knows all about that) who came to Vietnam to fight in a war. He tells how the Sergeant would talk in English to his men and in French to him, and how he would talk in Vietnamese to his friends for Reginald. He talked about how things were so confused and some of his friends liked Reginald and the other Americans and how some didn’t. He tells them how the Sergeant helped him and his family get their papers to come to America, and how Reginald LaCroix, with two babies and a wife at home, was shot, pulling another soldier out of the line of a sniper’s bullet.

Tyrell listens to this and cannot help the tears coming out as the man cries a little telling them how he promised he would visit Sergeant Reggie’s family as often as he could, but things are sometimes hard in Oregon, but they do OK, all thanks to the Sergeant. He says it is important to remember the Sergeant and his friends, and as Grandpa Maurice, all in his old Navy get up, picks him up Tyrell tells him wishes he knew Grandpa Reggie. Grandpa Maurice just smiles and says he wishes that too.

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