© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Commentary: The Silent Hero

By Loretta Kelly

Buffalo, NY – Everyone has the call to become something greater than we can imagine...to do something that is touched by the divine.

Here is the story of one hero...the silent hero...my Uncle Robert.

No one talks much about Uncle Robert.

For my mother...the pain is too deep to visit very often. The family story is that the day after Bobby died my grandfather's hair turned white. Grandfather never spoke again.

My memory of Uncle Bob is a newsclip photo and a summary of his very brief life. An intense young man kissed with the Scottish good looks of my grandparents. Staring at the camera silent, composed, proud.

He was killed in WWII.

He died in the line of duty.

He never carried a gun.

Uncle Robert was a conscientious objector. He served his country...he was very brave indeed. He stood by his convictions and would not carry a gun.

So he became a medic.

The day he died he was out on the battlefield with the other soldiers. He was shot down tending to the wounded.

My mother says that to this day we don't know where he was buried. My mother believes in her heart that his remains are in Okinawa...somewhere.

But, his soul remains with us.

My beautiful son is of Korean descent. When he arrived home to us...my mother said "Bob would have loved him."

And I believe she is right.

Some of the first words that popped out of my son's mouth were "Bobby...Bobby's hair white!" I felt rather silly, but asked my mother about this...she was surprised.

You see in the photo I have of Uncle Bob...his hair looks reddish...it's a black and white photo rather hard to tell.

Well, mom told me different...sometimes Bobby's hair looked blonde...white. As she had said before...Bobby would have loved our son.

I like to think that Bobby is a special angel watching over my son. His body left on the other side of the world, but his spirit traveled across the world as my son did to come home to us.

My wish is that my son will have the strength of spirit that Bobby did. Not to die as a hero...certainly not! But, to stand behind the lessons of non-violence, to be brave in the face of adversity, to never surrender to the convictions of many when your soul tells you otherwise.

So, as we recall the 60th anniversary of D-Day, I think about Bobby never living to see the end of World War II. I think of my Uncle Peter who lost both his legs in that war, and died a few years shy of being able to see the memorial recently dedicated in Washington.

I think of all the heroes in my family. David, a Vietnam Vet who served his country as was demanded of him and gave his youthful eyes to seeing sights best never seen, to Billy another veteran of Vietnam who was brave and kept his humanity when the world around him was inhumane, to Alex who tried mightily to be a Marine, but answered God's call to settle into a family life and learn to be a healer, to Chuck a young Marine just recently returned home from Iraq, starting a new family with his beautiful new bride...I am truly grateful...and I thank you all for your strength to do what you are called to do.

These are my family heroes.