Sunday, October 26, 2008

A look at the tragedy of our generation

We're starting to work on the chapter about Vietnam.

As most of you know, we lost two members of our class -- Jon Rumble and Mike Sullivan -- in Vietnam, both in 1968. There were other members of our class who served there and then returned home.

The chapter will mostly be about Jon and Mike, who are "Forever Young" in our memories, and I need reminiscences about them. Mostly I need help with Mike; I knew Jon a little and am in touch with someone who served with him in Vietnam and was very close to him.

Some of the memories people have of Jon almost make him seem larger than life. Georgeanne Fletcher Honeycutt wrote me earlier with her memories of him.

"I vividly remember Jon Rumble accepting his diploma. He was such a presence. I hadn't known him well, but I was asked to help him with the music for the Unsinkable Molly Brown. He was a bit annoying with a great ego.

"I could translate the notes on the page into the song which he was to sing. He resisted, often wishing to make his own interpretations of the score. He finally trusted that I could read music. And, he won me over. I started to like him. He stopped being an attention-getting popular guy and I relinquished my role as the smart know it all musical girl. It was surprising that a friendship was possible.

"I smiled when he made a great gesture of relief and relished the cheers when he received his diploma. Within a year he was killed in Vietnam. I always find his name when I visit the wall. I've had so many years to receive attention. Jon's time on the stage was brief. But, when he was there he owned it."

Those of us who knew Jon have to smile when we hear that. I don't think it was any accident that his senior picture, his yearbook picture, shows him in a Madras jacket. At an age when most kids would do anything not to stand out or look different, he reveled in it.

As I said, I didn't know Mike Sullivan. But I know some of you did, and I need some stories. It would be wrong to make the Vietnam chapter just about Jon. So please help me. You can post them here as comments or you can e-mail them privately to me at Whichever you prefer.

I really want to do right by these guys in our book.

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