Saturday, May 28, 2011

Honoring Major Ernest Olds with Reflections on Mustard Seeds and P.O.W. Bracelets

Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11



I am not a collector of material things per se; that is, I do not hold on to many things that I don't need, other than emotional scars, which I confess I mull over far too much before I let them go. However, as far as letting go of material things, I am glad that I've kept this amber candy dish (pictured in the photograph posted above this blog entry), which belonged to my maternal grandmother, Clara May Fitchie Melahn, who died in 1987, shortly before what would have been her 87th birthday.
My grandmother always hated the fact that she was born in 1900, "because," she said, "it was too easy for folks to calculate her age".

I was living in New York City, in New York State, when she died at her home, in West Dundee, Illinois, and the miles between the two states were unnoticed by me, as I felt her presence constantly, though I am not so sure that she realized this, which at times breaks my heart, for my grandmother was near and dear to me always. And so I keep her beloved amber candy dish on my book shelf which stands behind my bed,



Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

and I have filled the dish with mustard seeds and a bracelet. The bracelet is a P.O.W. Bracelet, and that fact brings me to to the "reason" for today's post, which folks that are in the field of marketing may consider to be a bit off topic. However, I have "covered" myself on this issue, by my "disclaimer" set out in the 'About'  field of this blog (which can be found in the first "box" on the left panel of this blog), where I have informed my readers that, in addition to my "mainstay" posts about my terrace garden and my work as a photo-artist,"sometimes I reflect on current events, or discuss what people that currently influence me are doing (as well as people that have had an influence on me from their place in history"). And you, dear reader, if you have been following this blog regularly, most likely know this to be true — as evident in my blog entries on a variety of  historical events, including posts about prominent figures such as Steve Jobs, the renowned Apple C.E.O., and the deaths of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Abrahamn Lincoln; as well the deaths of Arthur Miller and Sidney Lumet — whose paths I crossed when I did some work as an actress. In any event, today's post, in the middle of Memorial Day weekend is in honor of Major Ernest Olds, the name of someone who served in the Vietnam War, and the name which is engraved on the P.O.W. Bracelet (pictured below).


Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

I keep it in my departed grandmother's amber candy dish which is filled with mustard seeds.  The date, 3-11-68, which is engraved below his name, is all the information I have regarding Major Ernest Olds, and it is the date, I was told by Tim McName (the the guy who sold me this bracelet in 1972), that Major Ernest Olds was presumed to be missing in action.

McNamee worked as a cook in the same restaurant where I worked as a busgirl back in my high school years, and, he told me that the income earned from the sales of these bracelets went towards efforts to rescue prisoners of the Vietnam War. Although, McNamee was able to beat the draft, he died in action when he was murdered while visiting a client that he represented as an attorney. (Details about McNamee's murder can be found by clicking here.)

While I learned the fate of McNamee in 1987, for years and years I have continued to research the whereabouts of Major Ernest Olds, but I have been unable to find out anything about what happened to him, and I am plagued with questions. Had he been held captive as a prisoner of war? If so, was he rescued? Or did he die fighting in the Vietnam War, and if that is the case, did he receive a proper burial? If he survived the war, did he sustain long term physical injuries? If any of you, dear readers, know how I might ever find out what happened to him, please advise me. It is still not impossible to find out about the fate of  Major Ernest Olds, even though the date imprinted on the P.O.W. Bracelet bearing his name reads 3-11-68.

I have faith, though it  be often only the size of one single mustard seed, that perhaps Major Ernest Olds survived. In my continued efforts to find out about Major Ernest Olds' fate, I came across a moving story about a woman named Kathy Strong, who received a P.O.W. Bracelet bearing the name James Moreland, in 1972, when she was twelve, and, she still remembers watching footage "of soldiers coming off planes" in hopes that her Green Beret would be among those returning home but that was not to be the case.

According to the story (which you may read in full by clicking here), Moreland's sisters who are the"closest surviving relatives" of the Green Beret, James Moreland, received word this past January, that "their brother's remains had been found and identified", and, James Moreland will be buried between his mother and father after a full military funeral this Memorial Day. "Strong says she is going to remove the bracelet and have it buried with him."

My bracelet, as I've said, still remains immersed in mustard seeds. This is because it is much too large for my small wrists, and I do not want it to slip off after having it all these years, but  in no way have I forgotten about Major Ernest Olds . 

As for the story of Kathy Strong, the author of the story which accounts her experience has also observed, that regarding P.O.W. Bracelets,"they eventually went the way of the Pet Rock . . . "; therefore, now, with Memorial Day having been moved by Congress in 1971 as per the National Holiday Act of 1971, it too seems to be going the way of the Pet Rock (Don't know what a Pet Rock is? See my post from earlier this yer by clicking here.) Consequently, the result of moving Memorial Day in this way has made it all the easier to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the V.F.W. stated in 2002 (in their Memorial Day address),"Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined  the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day".


Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @ https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/words-in-our-beak/id1010889086?mt=11

2 comments:

  1. How funny...nearly one year after this blog was posted, For no reason whatsoever, I am rummaging through my dresser and find the POW bracelet I had from the 1970's. I decide to "google" the name on the bracelet and find that I am not the only one who holds on to the POW bracelet of Maj. Ernest Olds, 3-11-68. Thank you Maj. Olds for your service to our Country.

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  2. Wow, this brings tears to my eyes, Anonymous! The chances of us still having Major Ernest Olds' bracelet! The fact that we have POW bracelets bearing Major Ernest Olds name would probably mean something to any surviving family members. I wonder if they ever found out what happened to him. I too thank Major Olds for his service to our country, and I pray his family is at peace.

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