"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Sense of Community

When I began this blog back in July of 2010, I had a vision. I wanted to give something back to Vietnam vets, those proud, brave men and women who gave so much for all of us.

I wanted to create a place where they could share their experiences and feelings through writing. I wanted it to be a safe and healing place. Memoirs has gone way beyond my expectations and my vision.

I'm happy to have an update to a search by Richard Schwartz for the family of his friend, Dan Hively, who was KIA in Vietnam. This came about through a series of emails and with Richard's kind permission, I'm proud to share the story with you.

Richard Schwartz
A Memoirs excerpt from a blog by Richard Schwartz on August 30, 2010, titled "Thoughts and Memories":

Richard Schwartz
Co D, 2/327 Battalion
2nd Bde
101st Airborne Division
Phu Bai, RVN

"... I remember that July date as the day that we received the notice that [my friend] Daniel Hively had been killed. He was in my platoon while I was in combat. It struck me as I read the notice, there was a family in Danville, Ohio, that didn't know that their son was coming home in a box. But I knew, and the sorrow of what they were going to experience overwhelmed me.

... I gave the name Daniel as the middle name to one of my boys so that Dan's name and memory would carry on for at least one more generation in my family. I've tried to find his family in Ohio to let them know that I gave Dan's name to one of my sons but couldn't find anyone. I know he has a sister who's name is Shirli Anne Rickert, but I can't seem to locate her ..."

Here is the first email, September 4, 2010, regarding Richard's blog:

"Cathy--I have some information for Richard Schwartz concerning the family of Dan Hively. He mentioned in his piece on Memoirs that he has been unable to find Dan's sister, Shirli. We have a good friend who grew up in Danville so I contacted her. As it turns out, her sister and brother-in-law were high school friends of Shirli's and they all still live in Danville. Here is the info:

Shirli and Lowell Richert
**** Richert Road
Danville OH 43014

I can only imagine what a special blessing it would be for Shirli to hear from Dan.
Thank you for "Memoirs". It is so special. And I love that you have added Doug's pictures.
Andrea Yaw"

Email on Saturday, September 4, 2010:

"Dear Richard,
I got the following very nice letter from the Yaw's, who visited the Memoirs From Nam blog. It's about how you can reach Dan Hively's family in Danville, OH. I'm so happy for you, Richard. This will help all of you to find some closure.

Again, your article was wonderful and any time you want to send me another, I would be proud and honored to print it. Thank you again.
My warmest regards,

Email on October 6, 2010:

"CJ, Bud, and Andrea [Yaw]
I received an amazing phone call last Friday. It was from Dan Hively's sister, Shirli. She received my letter that day and called me. We had a long talk - actually over an hour. It was a fascinating call as she got me caught up on everything that has happened in her life since Dan's death. Initially I thought it was odd that she would tell me so much detail about her life but then I realized that she was actually getting Dan caught up on all that had happened since he died. She also told me many things about how and where Dan was raised so I also learned some of the values he was taught that made him the great guy I met. Shirli and Dan were close in age and very close as they grew up. She was VERY appreciative to hear from someone who served with Dan.

Shirli and I wish to thank CJ and the Yaws for their efforts on our behalf that allowed this to happen. Also please forward my thanks to the individuals that took the time to send the Richert's address to the Yaws.

Email on October 8, 2010:

Thank you so much for sending me the update. That's wonderful, and I'm happy it turned out so well for everyone. I don't know how well you know Bud and Andrea Yaw, but I would like to share something with you. Bud was in Vietnam at the same time Doug was, in 1969, and also from my hometown, Coshocton. At the time, Andrea, Bud's wife, was expecting their first child. When Doug was killed in Vietnam, the government asked if we knew anyone also serving in Vietnam that we might want to request to accompany Doug's body home to us, on the plane. We asked them to allow Bud to come with Doug -- and the Yaws named their son Douglas.

May I have your permission to put your letter on my blog? There is such a warm outcome from your search for Dan's family -- it just might help other vets to also reach out.

Thank you again for sharing your writing ... and your heart -- God bless you, Richard.
My warmest regards and respect,

Email October 8, 2010:

"CJ -
You may certainly post my note on Memoirs. Hopefully it will inspire others to write something for Memoirs and maybe even tie up more loose ends for those from the Vietnam era.

As I read Memoirs and have gotten to know others through the site, its starting to take on a feeling of community. Do you feel that as well? Carolynn mentioned that when we were discussing some of the articles on Memoirs. There's that great line from the John Denver song, "West Virginia"... about going home to a place I've never been before. The Memoirs site is taking on that feel. As the creator of that "community" I hope you get that feeling as well.

Its fall up here in the Northwest. The Salmon are returning to the little steams around us and the last of the summer festivals has taken place. The returning Salmon, after their years at sea is almost a metaphor for the way were are "returning" to your site to get to know each other many years after Vietnam and express our thoughts and feelings about our Vietnam experiences.

Bud and Andrea must be quite thoughtful people for naming their son after Doug. I don't know if Bud writes, but I would love to know what it was like to accompany Doug to his final resting place. Needless to say if any of you Memoirs "community members" ever are in the Seattle area, Carolynn and I would love to meet you in person.

On a technical note if you ever want to edit something I've sent you, please go ahead and do that. I'm an engineer by trade so have no actual experience writing.

Thanks again for putting the site together. I'm sure Doug is as proud of what you've accomplished as are the rest of us. Look at all the hearts you've touched.

God bless you and keep you safe and healthy,

Richard A. Schwartz
Digital Anvil Technology
27708 246th Ave SE
Maple Valley, Wa. 98038

Thank you for sharing your wonderful story, Richard. Thank you, too, to the family of Dan Hively, and a very special thanks to Bud and Andrea Yaw.
Your friend,

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale


  1. From Facebook:

    You can outrun something that's chasing you, but you'll never outrun something that's inside you. ~CJ

    Marylou McGinnis Crabtree
    Once again, an inspiring thought that reaches right to my heart... thanks CJ.

    I just got caught up with the 'Memoirs From Nam' blog. Reading the posts there have beenso enlightening and heart wrenching and healing ... thank you for your persistence in highlighting this blog. Hopefully this blog will soon be read all over the world and more stories and more healing will continue ...

  2. I'm so glad you like the quote, Marylou -- and thank you for your kind comments about Memoirs, too. Our hopes are the same.


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