Our veterans

Ben Robinson

Ben Robinson

All About Ben

By Ben Robinson

As far as military service, my family has been thankfully limited. The draft was over before me or my brother Thom reached 18. The idea of volunteering to go overseas and have somebody shoot at me never really appealed to me, so I never volunteered either.

My father served briefly in the military near the beginning of World War II, but my grandmother’s poor health led him to seek a dishonorable discharge. My Uncle Farris served in the army for a while, but he finished his time with no major headlines.

On my mother’s side of the family, my uncle Don Smith was in the Air Force many years. He came home and partied with my father often, but was, as far as I know, never involved in combat.

The one real example of military service on my father’s side of the family was my uncle J.B. Robinson, who died in service when my father was still a baby.

Word is that when my father was born, J.B. was in the army and he suggested he be named Buck Foster Robinson. A school teacher who had taught several of the Robinson children wanted the new baby to be named Benjamin Franklin Robinson. My grandmother compromised and named her new son “B.F.”

Of course many years later when I was born, I was named Benjamin Franklin, and I’m thankful. With a name like Buck Foster, I would almost have to buy a used car lot. “Come see Buck Foster Robinson and get a great deal.”

By the way, J.B. also had only the initials. J.B. did not stand for anything. My grandmother must have known she would have nine children grow to adulthood, so she started using initials pretty early.

Either way, just before J.B. entered the army he married Effie Brooks from Liberty. Back when I was doing research into our family history, I found that Effie was from a good family in Liberty.

She and J.B. had an infant, who apparently was so sick it died when a few months old. Effie also got sick during this period. This was when medical care in the county was rare, and I think some kind of flu was going around. Effie died too, and the baby was buried in the same coffin as Effie. Apparently caskets were very expensive back then, so the family did what it could to save money.

So J.B. reports to the army, and is assigned aboard a ship traveling up by California. J.B. got sick while on the ship. My grandmother saved the telegrams they sent her. The last one arrived shortly after J.B. had passed away.

That, perhaps, was why she was so heartbroken when her youngest son — my father — was away in the Army. She was afraid she would lose another child to military service.

Either way, I grew up realizing that many families make sacrifices in order to make the world safer for all of us. I know that we all owe our gratitude to those who serve, even those who are fortunate enough not to face war.

So thank you, veterans. We owe you the freedom we all enjoy.