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A Letter in Memoriam

Thursday, May 23, 2024 @ 08:38 AM A Letter in Memoriam Jennifer Nanney Project Editor MORE

We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:16).

As we approach the upcoming Memorial Day remembrance and the 80th anniversary of D-Day, I would like to share a letter that my brother, Jeff Gafford (a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Army), wrote in 2015 as a tribute to our dad’s brother, affectionately known by all of his nieces and nephews as “Uncle Doc.”

Neither of my two brothers nor I ever met this beloved uncle, as PFC Walter R. "Doc" Gafford died in Saint-Lô, France, on July 25, 1944, when our dad (his baby brother) was only 10 years old. This occurred only a few weeks after Uncle Doc went ashore at Utah Beach during the Normandy Invasion, which began on June 6, 1944.

I pray this letter will spur you to hold on to – and even fight for – what is left of the nation that God providentially established through the vision and wisdom of our Founding Fathers. Too many men and women have given their all … too many people have lost their parents, children, and/or friends …  for us to let it all be thrown away over feelings and preferences and the whims of those who care nothing for the God Who created not only this nation, but the very ones who scoff at His name. (Note: the examples Jeff used were current when he wrote this in 2015, but there are even more that could easily fit today in 2024.)

And now for this letter in memoriam.


Dear Uncle Doc,

Being the 5th of June, I am a day early because I wanted you to read this letter before tomorrow. I wanted to write this post for two reasons. (By the way, that is what we do now. We no longer personalize our thoughts with pen and paper; we post, tweet, email, and text.)

First, I want to say, “Thank You.”

I am the middle child of your youngest sibling, Oscar Gene; you and I have never met. The walls of Mom and Dad’s home were always filled with family pictures, and there were shoe boxes full of other pictures in the closet – I am sure much like most families today. But as I grew up, I often wondered why there were no pictures of your wife, your children, or you in any of the family gatherings. There are two or three of you, alone, on the wall.

I can only assume the reason why there are no pictures of your wife is because there wasn’t one. I never had the opportunity to grow up with your children, my cousins, because there were none. There are no pictures of us together because you didn’t come to the reunions. And there are so many other pictures that we don’t have; I have never seen a picture of you standing beside your first new car or holding a fishing pole either. As a matter of fact, I have never seen a color picture of you. So for that, thank you.

I know that is an odd way to say thank you, Uncle Doc, but let me explain. You see, on Dec 7th, 1941 – before you had the opportunity to buy your first car or do much fishing or find a true love, and start a family – your time away from home was extended. Instead of being present at family reunions, your duties called in other places. From 1941 to 1944, you gave up a normal life by answering the call to military service in the U.S. Army. In June of 1944, along with thousands of other young men who never married or had children, you crossed a stormy channel on your way to a great adventure. By choosing to give up that normal life that so many of us cherish today, you opened the door of freedom for so many, while slamming the door of tyranny on others. By stepping on the sands of one beach, you unlocked the gates of places like Auschwitz and Dachau.

I don’t know the facts surrounding your days in southern France, like how and exactly when you went ashore … the actions you were involved in, and where. If we had met, these are the questions I would have asked. I do know that you never realized the results of your labor, as weeks later, in a place called Saint-Lô, you sacrificed your opportunity for a “normal” life. Under your photo on Dad’s wall hangs a letter your mother received; that letter includes the words “On behalf of a grateful nation.”

“On behalf of a grateful nation …”?

That brings me to the second reason for my letter.

I want to apologize. I hope and pray that as you look down from your heavenly guard post, you and all your fellow soldiers can find it in your hearts to forgive us, as we, the people, are no longer the country you sacrificed your life for. We are no longer “a grateful nation,” but rather a thoughtless, selfish, godless nation.

We have become a nation of cold hearts filled not only with greed but with contempt for the very Constitution you swore to defend. Forgive us for taking God out of our schools and sending godless politicians to defend that same Constitution. Forgive us for transforming our once-great cities, like Baltimore and Detroit, into battle zones … for desecrating our great nation’s flag … and for doing violence to each other for the sake of social acceptance and YouTube fame.

As you look down in disgust at our moral and ethical decay, you will also see us proclaim new age “heroes” like Bruce Jenner for having courage [to declare himself to be a woman named Caitlyn], yet we exiled Tim Tebow for kneeling in prayer. We label our soldiers as cowards while we daily turn our backs on thousands of Christians and the Jewish people, crucified and beheaded. Words like “tolerance,” “diversity,” and “hater” are used to stifle our First Amendment rights in the name of political correctness. Politicians bypass and trample our Constitution by way of greased palms and special interests. Please turn away and forgive, as we are a shamed nation without the will to stand on principle or defend and liberate the oppressed as you did.

In closing, dear Uncle, for tomorrow’s anniversary, I am so very proud of you. It is you, the Greatest Generation, that are true heroes. I pray that once again you may look down and be proud of us and your legacy … that one day we may right this sinking ship and earn what you did for us all.


Your nephew, Jeff

PFC Walter R. 'Doc' Gafford

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