Graybeards - Korean War Veterans Association

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Graybeards - Korean War Veterans Association

The Editor’s Desk

Art Sharp

Editing is a synonym for

friendship ©

With this issue I begin my seventh year

as editor of The Graybeards. I am just as

surprised as most of you are that I have

lasted this long. The truth is that I enjoy

the assignment, and I am good for a couple

more years at least. But, it’s not the

work that I savor the most. It’s the opportunity

to meet KWVA members, in person

or electronically, and form friendships

that intrigues me. Those opportunities can

be bittersweet—especially when some of

the people I have never met personally

are “Promoted to Glory.”

It is amazing how some of us react to

the deaths of people we don’t know personally.

For example, when I learned

recently about the 19 September 2010

death of Dr. John Laura, I felt inexplicably

sad. I am not sure why. After all, I

never met the man face to face. My contact

with John was restricted to occasional

phone calls and a few emails. Then

why did I feel such a sense of loss? And

why do I feel that same sense when I read

about the deaths of other KWVA members

in “Last Call?”

The answer is simple: Dr. Laura, other

deceased KWVA members (and those still

living), and I shared a common bond: a

love of country, a respect for freedom,

and a willingness to serve in the military

to fight for both. He did a lot more of that

last part than I did.

John, a member of Ch 105, Central

New York, served in WWII and the

Korean War. He was a dentist who, by his

own admission, saw a lot more combatrelated

dental damage to Soldiers than he

ever wanted to see. Dentistry was his job

then—and his life.

Dr. Laura was a humble man. John was

well aware that he was just one doctor in

a large pool of dentists, and that people

might have been happy to see him personally,

but not always professionally. He

joked to me once that he was the “invisible

dentist.” When he returned home after

his tour of duty in Korea ended, he was

sure he would have to start a new practice.

That was not the case. Most of his

...I feel sad when I read any names in “Last Call.” And the

longer I serve as editor, the sadder I feel as I read “Last Call.”

Everybody whose name appears in that list is a hero to me—and by extension, a

friend.

patients didn’t even know he had been

gone.

The good dentist returned to his office

after a couple years away expecting to

start all over again. He was a bit taken

aback when his first patient he treated

acknowledged apologetically that it had

been a couple years since he had visited

the doctor.

“That’s all right,” Dr. Laura said. “I’ve

been away with the Army for a couple

years.”

“Really?” the patient responded. “I

didn’t even know you were gone.” (What

was that about people wanting to see him

personally, but not professionally?)

He shared that story with me when I

was doing some research for a Korean

War conference I was attending. John was

never at a loss for a story. Anyone who

reads the Tell America section of The

Graybeards knows that.

John was very active in the Tell

America program around his hometown

of Syracuse, New York. He believed firmly

that young people had to know about

the Korean War and the young men and

women who participated in it. In fact, this

issue contains his final entry for the section.

What some of the people who listened

to his stories at the schools mentioned

did not know was that he was

dying as he spoke. He knew—but he did

not let that stop him. Like a true Soldier,

he fought literally to his last breath.

Unfortunately, I could not include his

last report in the July-August issue,

because there were other chapters in the

queue before his. So, he called me and

asked when it would appear. John did not

pressure me. He simply asked when the

report would be published. I promised

him it would be included in the

September-October issue (which it is).

Sadly, it appeared too late for him to see

it. Hopefully, our distribution system

includes a dentist’s office somewhere

beyond the “Pearly Gates” where John

can read about his contributions to “Tell

America.” He deserves that.

When we print “Last Call” in the

November-December 2010 issue, John

Laura’s name will be listed under New

York. Outsiders who read the column will

see only the name, without knowing anything

about the man. That is the case with

every name in “Last Call.” Most people

who read their names will never know

anything about the individuals behind

them. Luckily, that is not always the case

with me.

I also see the names, but all too often I

know the people. Due to my lengthy stint

as editor of The Graybeards, I have

formed friendships with KWVA members

I have never met. A phone call here, an

email there, a letter or two in between...a

friendship is formed. Often, I don’t know

some of these “friends” have passed away

until I read their names in “Last Call.”

When that happens, I feel the same sense

of sadness I did when I learned about

John Laura’s demise. And the longer I

serve as editor, the sadder I feel as I read

“Last Call.” Everybody whose name

appears in that list is a hero to me—and

by extension, a friend.

That is the beauty of editing The

Graybeards. There is no end to the number

of friendships I have made since

September 2004, when I assumed the editorship

of The Graybeards, or I can make

in the future. (I expect to make many

more as the years go on.)

Is it any wonder that I have served as

editor for so long—and plan to continue

in that position for a lot longer?

Contents of this editorial copyrighted by

Arthur G. Sharp©

9

The Graybeards

September – October 2010

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