Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Memorial Service

This was posted on a message board; I checked the veracity on The content of the e-mail is true, but they can't verify the author or the airport tale. Still, it's a timely reminder that our national persective is seriously skewed when it comes to our heroes.

Memorial Service: you're invited.

Darrell "Shifty" Powers was buried on June 20, 2009. We're hearing a lot today about big splashy memorial services. I want a nationwide memorial service for Darrell "Shifty" Powers.

Shifty volunteered for the airborne in WWII and served with Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Infantry. If you've seen Band of Brothers on HBO or the History Channel, you know Shifty. His character appears in all 10 episodes, and Shifty himself is interviewed in several of them.

I met Shifty in the Philadelphia airport several years ago. I didn't know who he was at the time. I just saw an elderly gentleman having trouble reading his ticket. I offered to help, assured him that he was at the right gate, and noticed the "Screaming Eagle", the symbol of the 101st Airborne, on his hat.

Making conversation, I asked him if he'd been in the 101st Airborne or if his son was serving. He said quietly that he had been in the 101st. I thanked him for his service, then asked him when he served, and how many jumps he made. Quietly and humbly, he said "Well, I guess I signed up in 1941 or so, and was in until sometime in 1945 . . . " at which point my heart skipped. At that point, again, very humbly, he said "I made the 5 training jumps at Toccoa, and then jumped into Normandy . . . . do you know where Normandy is?" At this point my heart stopped.

I told him yes, I know exactly where Normandy was, and I know what D-Day was. At that point he said "I also made a second jump into Holland, into Arnhem." I was standing with a genuine war hero . . . . and then I realized that it was June, just after the anniversary of D-Day. I asked Shifty if he was on his way back from France, and he said "Yes. And it's real sad because these days so few of the guys are left, and those that are, lots of them can't make the trip."

My heart was in my throat and I didn't know what to say. I helped Shifty get onto the plane and then realized he was back in Coach, while I was in First Class. I sent the flight attendant back to get him and said that I wanted to switch seats. When Shifty came forward, I got up out of the seat and told him I wanted him to have it, that I'd take his in coach. He said "No, son, you enjoy that seat. Just knowing that there are still some who remember what we did and still care is enough to make an old man very happy." His eyes were filling up as he said it.

And mine are brimming up now as I write this. Shifty died on June 17 after fighting cancer. There was no parade. No big event in Staples Center. No wall to wall back to back 24x7 news coverage. No weeping fans on television. And that's not right. Let's give Shifty his own Memorial Service, online, in our own quiet way. Please forward this email to everyone you know. Especially to the veterans. Rest in peace, Shifty.


blushing rose said...

Bless his heart & soul. Without these men we'd not be where we are today, this nation would not be the same ... THANK GOD that we were protected by those who fought for our freedoms. Rest in peace. TYSM for sharing this story.
TTFN ~Marydon

simple~needs said...

thats beautiful!!
you got me crying.. i too, feel its sad that we can make a big 'do over a pop star but not much for our service men.
god bless shifty.

Terri said...

Marydon, Kim - thank you both for stopping by. I cried when I read this, too. And I think it is important that we remember the sacrifices made on our behalf.

Amy said...

I'm crying, too. May God bless Shifty.

DayPhoto said...

I am crying as I write this. If you have not watched BAND OF BROTHERS do so NOW! He is there!

My father fought and his neighbor also fought in WWII, not in Shifty's war, but in the Pacific. Eddy Ryan was even in the Bahthann (sp) Death March and prison camps. He returned home. A changed man.

My dad was 16 when he went in...I learn to love this land and our flag from him!


Heidi 'n' Jeff said...

RIP Shifty. :) That's a cool story.

Daisy said...

Thank you for sharing this, Terri. Yes, so often we neglect to or forget to remember and thank those who have made such a great sacrifice for us.

Donnell said...

Thank you for posting this. My own dad was in the 82nd Airborne, and missed D-Day because he was captured during the invasion of Anzio some months before. He never liked talking about the war until he connected in his later years with other ex-POWs. I've always thought of him as a hero, but he never thought of himself that way. He passed away in 2002, but I really think he left most of himself behind in the war, if that makes sense.