My friend Ray Elliott took me to his Wednesday morning Marine breakfast at Sammy’s in Champaign, IL. They stood up and clapped, even though my father was regular Army. I told them that one of my dad’s best friends, Eddie Morgan, had been a Marine. He’d joined at 17 and was part of the First Marine Division that landed on Guadalcanal in August 1942. Eddie always told my dad that what my dad had done was nothing — the Army came in after the Marines for a “clean-up” operation on Guadalcanal, a mere garden party compared to what the Marines had been through. One guy at the end of the table called out that his uncle had been there at Schoffield Barracks, just like my dad, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
“The 25th Infantry Division,” I said. (I know my stuff).
Ray told me that the fellow to my left, Keith Eveland, was with the First Marine Division in Korea. The plates started arriving, each heaped so high with eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, they could’ve fed an entire platoon. When Keith’s breakfast arrived he opened up the pepper shaker and dumped half the contents onto his eggs.
“Why don’t you just get the hot sauce from down the table?” I asked him.
“Don’t want to press my luck.”
When it was time to leave, he said, “We’re proud of you for what you’ve done with your legacy.”