My brother, Rob Seeley, lifted his trumpet to his lips and out poured a strong, resounding “Taps” – a tune so familiar to honor fallen soldiers! The scene overwhelmed me as he stood on a grassy area next to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. Folks paying their respects at the Wall, turned toward the trumpet player, remained quiet and placed their hands on their hearts.
We walked to the Korean War Veterans Memorial, where Rob, without any fanfare, again opened his trumpet case and lifted the horn. As he began to play Taps, folks moved out of his way, almost to direct the musical tribute straight towards the 19 stainless steel, life-like, heavy-laden soldiers traipsing through the fields.
“On behalf of the United States Marines, I’d like to thank you,” a visitor told Rob.
It was an honor for our family to be present for such a solemn remembrance and tribute to our brave fallen warriors.
Rob, a former Navy Lieutenant JG, who has played trumpet for over 60 years, found two friends’ names engraved on the Vietnam Wall.
John Earle graduated from Vermont Academy, Class of ’60. A patriot for his country, John became a Navy fighter pilot based on an aircraft carrier. On one sortie, he overshot the landing deck and plunged into the water.
Rick Gates, a fraternity brother of Rob’s at Vermont’s Middlebury College, joined ROTC, loved the Army and died in Vietnam, a patriot for his country!
I also looked up two friends on the Vietnam Wall. We were all Staten Island, Curtis High School, Class of ’62 graduates.
Harry Helt, an honor roll student, marshal of several school posts including lunchroom, pool and gym, played on the Curtis football team. Most of all, he was a gentleman.
Nicholas Lia, an honor roll student, Class Vice President, Register Room President and Arista member, also played on the school’s football team. He, too, was a gentleman.
We’ll always remember John, Rick, Harry and Nicholas and will honor all the other brave men and women who served and sacrificed their lives for our country and our freedoms.