Jacob had twelve sons:
The sons of Leah:
Reuben the firstborn of Jacob,
Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.
The sons of Rachel:
Joseph and Benjamin.
The sons of Rachel’s servant Bilhah:
Dan and Naphtali.
The sons of Leah’s servant Zilpah:
Gad and Asher.
– Genesis 35:22b-26a
The Scripture above says noting about the interactions between the brothers, but they had to band together, look out for each other, and have secret pacts (okay, they sold Joseph into slavery, but maybe other pacts not that nefarious).
The photo is of an Apollo 11 patch. I have no authentication that seems to be the only way to prove ‘worth’ these days, but this patch has been to the moon and back. Neil Armstrong was an Eagle Scout. He took a box, the size of a shoebox to the moon, filled with extra patches. The patches were distributed on the Space Coast of Florida and in Houston, TX to scoutmasters. Those scoutmasters were given instructions to only give the patches to Eagle Scouts that stayed in the program, helping and teaching younger boys. As a nineteen-year-old, I became a Den ‘Mother’ for a new Webelos program (We’ll Be Loyal Scouts – just 10yr olds at the time). (They had not changed the leadership title to Den Leader yet, so my shoulder patch said Den Mother.) My uncle, who lived in Cocoa, Florida came by to give me this patch. He was a scoutmaster for years on the Space Coast. The following is a remembrance of someone who once had a brother that we honor on Memorial Day.
Once upon a time I had an uncle who could not swim. He wasn’t my uncle yet. He had not married my aunt, and I wasn’t born yet anyway, but that can be left for another story.
My uncle had a brother who could not swim either. They made a pact when World War II broke out that they would both join the Navy. They were model recruits. The only thing that they lacked in becoming sailors was to complete the swimming test.
The swimming test was between two buoys at sea. Everyone was told to jump over the side of the tugboat and swim for the far buoy. The tugboat would then move to the far buoy and wait for the swimmers to arrive. At that point, they would climb up the cargo net that was already hanging over the side of the boat. When my uncle and his brother jumped over the side, they reached out and grabbed the cargo net. They hung on for dear life, just below the water level, coming up for air carefully, afraid to be seen. When the other recruits started arriving, they waited for the largest group to reach the net before they started to climb back into the tugboat. They passed the swimming test. They were now sailors. Oddly enough, they were each assigned to tugboats.
Fast forward to D-Day. As they were approaching the shores of their assigned beach, my uncle looked at the tugboat next to his. He knew that his brother was on that tug. He waved. He didn’t see his brother, but the wave was to signify that they had gotten into this together. He was still here for his brother.
At that moment, they started taking enemy fire. He heard loud explosions, and he ducked his head. When the bombing slowed down, he looked out where his brother’s tug had been, but there was nothing there. His brother had died on D-Day.
In 1962, the movie, The Longest Day, came out. There were too many stars in the movie not to go see it. It was filmed in black and white so that real battle footage could be used where ever possible.
My uncle went to see the movie. As they left the theater, he looked strange, what is now referred to as the thousand-yard stare. His children asked him what was wrong. He said, “I saw it.”
They asked what he had seen.
He said, “I saw my tug in the battle footage. Before I could say, ‘That’s my tug’ I saw an explosion. The tug that my brother was on took a direct hit. When the smoke cleared, there just wasn’t anything there.”
My uncle would live nearly thirty more years and lead a lot of scouts to the rank of Eagle, my cousins for two and helping me get through my toughest challenge – Lifesaving Merit Badge, with a lot of swimming involved. His final battle was with ALS, before he got to go home to be with his brother.
Remember that our freedom came at a price.