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Beauty, Resilience.

IMG_3584 This picture of our beautiful grandmother, Alice Hill Rupertus, also known as “Sleepy” is something I treasure.  I found myself gazing at it last night during a quiet moment while reading in our library.

The photo was taken in 1946: At the christening of the USS Rupertus, named for our grandfather, her husband Major General William Rupertus USMC, who passed away of a sudden heart attack in 1945, at the end of WWII.

In this photo, she was just about the break the bottle of champagne against the ship in order to christen it with good cheer and blessings right before the destroyer rolled out to sea moments later in Lowell, Massachusetts.

I’ll have to post a photo of when she broke the bottle against the ship! It must have felt great after what she had been through.

My sister still has the shattered glass in a special wooden case.

Beside her (though not pictured here) are my father (age 5) her sister Dixie, a minister, and the Commander of the ship.

I have learned from family and friends stories that she was a beautiful, smart, elegant, graceful, joyful and fun spirited woman.

In the late 1990’s, we actually had the opportunity to meet some of the ship’s crew at a USS Rupertus reunion in Virginia Beach. Though the group’s ages spanned decades, the common bond of service on the same ship connected then, no matter what rank.

How exciting it was to meet the WWII sailors who had been serving on the USS Rupertus the day it was christened!  They had seen our grandmother that very day! In our conversations, they shared stories, what it was like leaving the safety of a US port for war, and how “Mrs. Rupertus’s” stunning beauty and grace during the bitter-sweet christening, gave them some peace.

A life altering path was ahead for many of them that day.

Sleepy is an inspiration to me.

The sudden loss of her husband and stark reality of raising their 5 year old son, as a single female in her early 30’s (especially in 1945), must have been devastating.

In those sparkling blue Irish eyes I see sadness of course, but also see a strong, kind person and resilient spirit. A spirit she must have called on, over and over to move forward in the years ahead.

Ah. The stories we all have.

Stories and photos connect the dots and light the path for those of us left behind.

Sleepy died of Leukemia just 7 years after this photo was taken.

Our father was only 16.

What a portrait of beauty AND perseverance.

Beautiful Sleepy. We love you.

Fin. APR

American Sniper “Breathe”

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Silver Screen.”


American Sniper: Bradley Cooper

As someone who comes from a military family I want to briefly focus on the movie American Sniper, which has been on my heart and mind since seeing it, and then close with some thoughts on the civilian military divide.

Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of US Navy Seal Chris Kyle is Academy award worthy.

Through Cooper’s studied work (and 8 years supporting the USO), and screen writer Jason Hall and Clint Eastwood’s guidance, they were able to show the rest of us (any controversy aside) a clarifying glimpse of what Chris Kyle, our soldiers, and their families go through at war, and later when they work to assimilate back home.

The precision Cooper displayed in showing Kyle’s incredible mastery of his mind, body and rifle is stunning. His watchful eye (like a hawk), steady body, mindful breathe and quiet patience before shooting (or not) was remarkable. In the movie, whenever he said the simple word “breathe”, my heart-rate shot up and I held my breath, knowing I could never be as steady under such duress.

The care for his family and fellow soldiers was also compelling.

Cooper demonstrated in the movie that separation from families during service is very hard on both parties but the toughest battle often arrives when the soldiers come home.

The soldier’s separation from their mission, their buddies, along with explosive memories of battle and loss, can create a haunting void.

Or, it can allow opportunities for resilience, as we saw with Chris Kyle.

So thanks Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood and the brave ones in our media who strive greatly to inform. Thanks to the Kyle family for allowing this movie.  I hope it wins an award, or many. 

Movies like these, and related stories and discussions, will drive us to better understand and support our military and veterans, perhaps closing the divide between us.  

Interestingly, only 0.05% of the American population serves in our military in comparison to 12% in WW11.*  Wow.

US Navy Seal and sniper Chris Kyle was one of those very few and brave Americans who step up to serve their country today.

Just O.5% serve?

This is cause for great pause, awe and utter gratitude.

And then just maybe worth a look in the mirror. What are the rest of us doing for our country? Our communities?

#courage #honor #duty

The fact the soldiers go on multiple deployments is also cause for pause. Just imagine if another 1% of Americans would choose to serve?

How did we get so far removed from serving our country?

How did we get so far away from supporting our military and veterans, in the good and bad?

Or simply putting out an American flag to show our support for the USA – everyday?

As Karl W. Eikenberry, a retired Army lieutenant-general said, “The civilian-military divide erodes the sense of duty that is critical to the health of our democratic republic, where the most important office is that of the citizen. While the armed forces retool for the future, citizens cannot be mere spectators.” *

And as writers Eikenberry and David Kennedy go on to write, “Somehow, soldier and citizen must once again be brought to stand side by side.”

* #courage #honor #duty #serve

*Americans and Their Military Drifting Apart? \http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/27/opinion/americans-and-their-military-drifting-apart.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

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