"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

Monday, September 19, 2011

David Blank

Dear Mrs. Heck,

My name is David Blank and I live in West Des Moines, Iowa.  I am 51 years old and I am a relative of Douglas S. Kempf, U.S. Army.

My grandmother was Della Kempf and her brother was Douglas' grandfather.  Growing up as a boy I heard stories of Douglas and of how he bravely gave his life in Vietnam.  Although we never met, I've thought of Douglas often.  We even share the same birthdate, July 12th.  I did have the opportunity to spend time with Douglas's grandfather when I was a small boy and I still have fond memories of how nice a man he was.  I'm sure Douglas felt much the same.

I've visited Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. several times, and just this morning I took my 17 year son to see the traveling memorial as it passed through our town.  During these visits, I've made sure to make an etching of Douglas' name.  I've also shared Douglas's story with my two sons.

Our visit this morning to the memorial inspired my wife to Google Douglas' name ... not sure why I didn't think of doing that before now.  That is how I came across your email address.  I think in part because of Douglas, I've read a great number of first person books on Vietnam. I've always had a great interest in understanding the experience of the men who fought there.

I hope this email finds you well.  I just wanted to let you know that after all these years, there are still others out there keeping Douglas' memory and legacy alive.

Best Regards,

David Blank


Hello David,

What a wonderful surprise, hearing from you. Your letter touched me very deeply.  How I wish I could meet you in person. I keep in touch with Doug's brother, Denny, and many of our nieces and nephews and their children. It's so comforting, knowing that Doug's memory will live on, through all of us.  I still miss him terribly and I know I always will.

I would consider it an honor if you would allow me to post your letter on "Memoirs From Nam".  I began writing Memoirs in Doug's memory to help others, but it's been such a personal blessing.  It's helped me more than I ever thought possible.  I know Doug's family would love reading your letter, as will the many veterans who often visit and contribute.

Please keep in touch. I thank you most sincerely for taking the time to write to me -- I'm so very proud to know you.
With warmest regards and love,

“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

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