Woke up this morning with my memory flashed back to CHS. In the late winter of 1968, a very strange occurrence happened at Crestland High School in the heartland of America. The entire student body was called to assembly at the CHS Auditorium/gymnasium for a ceremony. I must not have been paying attention, because at the time I really did not understand what the purpose was.
After we were all assembled sitting in the bleachers, in marched the boots, rifles, and flags. The sound of the boots made an eerie ring in the auditorium. And there was clearly the sound of death in those military boots.
Someone got up and spoke and explained that we were there to remember Kenneth Roche who had lost his life in Vietnam. It was very short and bitter. We returned to our classes and the way I remembered it my teacher was Mrs. Roche on that day. Some girl in the class said we are so sorry for the loss of your son Mrs. Roche. I thought Mrs. Roche was going to cry, and was shocked when she said as I remember it, “This stupid Vietnam War is an immoral war that takes our sons to die in a distant land….”
The way I remember it, Mrs. Roche had more to say that day.
By May 19, 1968, Jerry Roche (Kenneth Roche's younger brother) and my sister Connie were graduating in the Class of 1968. I heard Jerry practicing the song with his mother for Baccalaureate or Commencement that year of 1968. Even when I sat there listening in the same CHS Auditorium approximately early May 1968, the words, “I know in my heart my Redeemer lives” caused me to sit quietly and listen as Jerry sang.
In the spring of 2014, we went to Washington D.C. at cherry blossom time, and visited the Vietnam War Memorial where most of the names actually appear below ground level on that black wall. We were standing there in the midst of all those thousands of names thinking there was no way we would find young Roche from Crestland, when my wife turned and pointed and said is this him as her finger rested on Kenneth W. Roche.
INCOMING SALVO…BE MORE DILIGENT…22 JAN. A.D. 2022
Counting it all joy BECAUSE HE LIVES,