Memorial Day : Graham Smith dies Severin Summers Recalled

I have written about Memorial Day on other years and you can find some of those posts here and here.  Some of the posts on this subject were fairly popular and I think important. They were about what was going on in those years. But this post will focus on a few men and mostly on two tied to this day for different reasons.
This Memorial Day Weekend will be marked in large part by the death of a long-time associate of my family Graham Newton Smith. A link to his personal obituaries outside the press and his funeral arrangements is available here.  He was older than I think I remembered him being and was in fact just a few years younger than my parents having been born in 1947. Being the oldest by many years myself in my family I realize that some people think my parents are younger when I am not around. I suppose his twin girls being the age of my third sister did have me off by a few years as I would say to those inquiring on the day he died that I guessed he was 63 and in fact he was 67. There were others who thought he was younger still and so I amended my guess to between sixty and sixty three. But in fact the stories he told dated him at the age he was. He had done many things even in the decades when we saw each other more often some of those things were from the more distant past.   At one time he and I had been relatively close but he and my parents remained close for decades. I will probably have a longer post dedicated to him as a blog obituary with a link to his services but if I do not it will not be because of a lack of things to write. He was a man of great activity over time.
 I have just been informed less than an hour before this posting that Graham Smith a US Navy Veteran, musician, lawyer, coordinator for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the Diocese of Lafayette, UL alumnus,technology buff, former television personality, co-author with his wife of the novel “The Nicodemus Code”, and probably most of all in his own mind  husband of Donna Smith and father of Sarah Smith Romero, Ellen Smith (married name to be added) and Andrew Morgan Smith and grandfather of several beautiful children has recently died, I will probably post more links and such later on in the day and tomorrow. I do not know the time or details of his passing. I trust my third or fourth hand information has allowed enough time for all those closest to him to have been called and put this out as a source of some information to which comments can be added. My father received a phone call from one of my brothers and I spoke to a third party as well who confirms this news.My own recent interaction with Graham included these messages:
From Graham Smith to me:”Thanks, Beau! I’m doing better and am now in a regular room instead of ICU.”
That was sent on May 18th, 10:21pm. I replied:
“Great to hear. Hope you continue to recover well and quickly.”Graham Smith answered ” Thanks!”His reply was a couple of days ago and so I was surprised by the news. But some who saw him recently told me after this news that he expired that they thought he was in deep trouble physically. My condolences go out to all of the family and to his many friends.
Graham’s death and life reminds me of how much service in the military many years earlier stays with people as a bond and an influence. I several times saw his bond with other Navy veterans.  I wish this bond was better understood but it is not one I have myself. But I do celebrate Memorial Day. It is a time I honor all the read who once served their country in arms. Of course, as I will repeat below it is mostly a time when I honor those killed in Action under our banners.
Saturday, Dad and I bought a new Weedeater at Stine’s which pays the sales taxes on all items purchased during Memorial Day weekend. We had lunch in town at Hai Nam and then as I rented some movies on Redbox I picked up some flowers we placed on and before the graves where both of my grandfathers and one of my great-grandfathers are buried. All three of them served honorably in the military and all died many years later. Memorial Day is really for honoring the dead killed in action most of all. However none of my kinfolk here were killed in action. I have one relative killed in action who died recently. Some official notice of his passing is available by link here. However, he is buried in Arlington and so I could not go and lay flowers at his grave this weekend.I do remember him here:
Severin W. Summers III was my second cousin named after Severin Leblanc in that his grandfather who was the brother of my grandfather Frank Summers was named after him. Sev was killed on August 2, 2009 in Afghanistan by a command operated improvised explosive device when his vehicle was hit. Severin had a Bachelor of Science degree from LSU and was qualified among other elite distinctions as a U. S. Army Ranger. He did not serve in Ranger Battalion but in the Special Forces proper in the Airborne units. He received at least eight official awards and decorations as well as the badges of various skills, certifications and levels of proficiency. I have not spent huge amount of time with his side of the family although certainly there have been many connections. When I have spoken to them with one major exception it has often centered around military matters. but although it was not very much it was only with Sev among his father and brothers that I ever told any of my own stories of places with gunsmoke, exotic names and uniformed and mufty men scurrying or stalking about under stress. Although we were different even in age and personality he seemed to be easier for me to talk to than most and perhaps some of that was reciprocated. But it is easy to overstate that connection especially as we both knew a lot of people with experiences more similar to those each of us had lived ourselves.He enlisted into military service in 1989. His father and brothers are military men and his wife then Tammy Fraser Summers and daughters Jessica, Shelby and Sarah survived him as well as his mother and sister. He and I were not close and had very different life experiences but I always felt when we did have a conversation it was longer, more detailed and more heartfelt than was the case with me and most people. It may be unfair to say we shared some confidences but I say it anyway. Last time I spoke to him at length was on the shores of False River and there was some concern shared with me about certain issues related to the fitness of some parts of the military in recent years. I think these factors had little to do with his death but the truth is I did very little to address those issues before he died and his words still haunt me sometimes. But Sev was all the gung ho poster boy that I have never been. We did stretch each other in some small ways. He carried the cross in his grandmother’s funeral procession and I felt it was part of an ongoing conversation between us although it was many other things as well. To associate myself with him in any way is too much and not to do so is unthinkable as well. But he is in many ways my main share of Memorial Day.
Photo: Today Dad and I bought a new Weedeater at Stine's which pays the sales taxes on all items purchased during Memorial Day weekend. We had lunch in town at Hai Nam and then as I rented some movies on Redbox I picked up some flowers we placed on and before the graves where both of my grandfathers and one of my great-grandfathers are buried. All three of them served honorably in the military and all died many years later. Memorial Day is really for honoring the dead killed in action most of all. However none of my kinfolk here were killed in action. I have one relative killed in action who died recently. However, he is buried in Arlington and so I could not go and lay flowers at his grave this weekend.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>I do remember him here:<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
 Severin W. Summers III was my second cousin named after Severin Leblanc in that his grandfather who was the brother of my grandfather Frank Summers was named after him. Sev was killed on August 2, 2009 in Afghanistan by a command operated improvised explosive device when his vehicle was hit. Severin had a Bachelor of Science degree from LSU and was qualified among other elite distinctions as a U. S. Army Ranger. He did not serve in Ranger Battalion but in the Special Forces proper in the Airborne units. He received at least eight official awards and decorations as well as the badges of various skills, certifications and  levels of proficiency.  I have not spent huge amount of time with his side of the family although certinly there have been many connections. When I have spoken to them with one major exception it has often centered around military matters. but although it was not very much it was only with Sev among his father and brothers that I ever told any of my own stories of places with gunsmoke, exotic names and uniformed and mufty  men scurrying or stalking about under stress. Although we were different even in age and personality he seemed to be easier for me to talk to than most and perhaps some of that was reciprocated. But it is easy to overstate that connection especially as we both knew a lot of people with experiences more similar to those each of us had lived ourselves.  </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p> He enlisted into military service in 1989. His father and brothers are military men and his wife then Tammy Fraser Summers and daughters Jessica, Shelby and Sarah survived him as well as his mother and sister. He and I were not close and had very different life experiences but I always felt when we did have a conversation it was longer, more detailed and more heartfelt than was the case with me and most people. It may be unfair to say we shared some confidences but I say it anyway. Last time I spoke to him at length was on the shores of False River and there was some concern shared with me about certain issues related to the fitness of some parts of the military in recent years. I think these factors had little to do with his death but the truth is I did very little to address those issues before he died and his words still haunt me sometimes. But Sev was all the gung ho poster boy that I have never been. We did stretch each other in some small ways. He carried the cross in his grandmother’s funeral procession and I felt it was part of an ongoing conversation between us although it was many other things as well. To associate myself with him in any way is too much and not to do so is unthinkable as well. But he is in many ways my main share of Memorial Day.
My own plans for Memorial Day may involve some food and swimming recreation with my sister and her family. I hope to relax a bit which I feel the need to do. However, I will not pass up the occasion of this holiday without giving some thought to our country and those who have kept it a sovereign country. However, while few Americans have died in Iraq and Afghanistan compared to Viet Nam or Korea or our other major wars perhaps many of have a connection to someone.  For me it is Sev. I hope we will remain a country he could have been  proud to be a part of and will honor his great sacrifice.
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6 responses to “Memorial Day : Graham Smith dies Severin Summers Recalled

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  3. Mary henry summers Farr

    Beau. Idly playing on google I came across your blog on Memorial Day and Sev. Beautiful expression. Thank you for your comments. Sev was truly someone we all felt close to yet no one really fully knew him. That is the case for all of us, but as always with Sev more so. Love you glad your dad is doing better. Msf

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