By Barb Carruth
Memorial Day…….. a day to remember those who gave their lives for us….Memorial Day…..remembering the ones killed in action….. like my dad’s half-brother Roy Ruffin, young, handsome, 23 years old, from Columbus, Mississippi, killed January 3, 1945, in Belgium. Uncle Roy, a member of 1st BN 502 Prcht. Inf. 101st Airborne Div. jumps from a plane, for us……that young life ended while my granny is back home in Mississippi, praying for his safe return.
As I read on the internet about the 101st Airborn Div, I found “On 03 January 1945 2nd Battalion engaged in heavy fighting around Longchamps, Belgium. The Germans pressed forward and as many as forty jumpers, mostly from F Company, were rounded up and taken prisoner that day.” He was listed on the Casualty List 22 February, 1945.
An article, my mother kept in her big “Family Bible”, tells me: “He was one of the first to land in France June 6. He fought through the Battle of Normandy and later served in Holland before going to Belgium where he was killed in the Battle of Bastogne.”
His body, brought home, laid to rest in Tabernacle Methodist Church Cemetery in Pickens County, Alabama. Each year, nieces and nephews, place flowers and United States of America flags there, not because we knew him; he died before most of us now living were born, but because we honor him and his gift.
His mother, my “Granny Ruffin” is resting in a grave nearby….. …..when I visit …. if I close my eyes…. I can see a little petite woman…in a small bedroom, walls lined with floral wallpaper…..opening her cedar chest…..reaching inside…..taking the purple heart medal…holding in her hand close to her heart…..tears in her eyes. This, my friends is the difference in Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Lula Homan Woolbright Ruffin
1887 – 1973