The development of friendships

The development of friendships

Photo credit Todd Mejia

The small town in which I reside was all a’twitter. The United States National Windsurfing Championships was being held in our town. At the beginning of the event was the National Anthem and Lt. Col’s from the Navy and the Army flew in, from various points around the U.S. to raise the flag during the opening ceremonies.

My father was a Lt. Col. and had just died the month prior, he had advised me prior to this event to pay attention to the community and not his passing.

I adhered to his advise and went forth with the wild ambition that he had encouraged.

At the beginning of the National Championship we had arranged to have a color guard and include every branch of the military (including Coast Guard)

I found myself glad to be amongst “Lt. Col.’s” from various branches of our military.  They had flown in from all points of the U.S.  When the presentation of the colors was about to commence it seemed that they were not able to come to a decision who should raise the American flag for this notable ceremony.

I was a bit stricken by remorse because of my fathers recent death and had a hard time trying to tolerate the two Lt. Colonels not being able to come to an agreement on which one of them should raise the flag.  The pettiness was palpable.

It was kind of a big deal, because a half dozen/eight newspapers from St. Paul to Sioux City and beyond were covering the event.

I wanted none of their bickering, they couldn’t agree on who should raise the flag.

They were implacable and I eventually had to intercede, with tear blind eyes I had to explain that it was not about them or their particular branch of service to this nation.
It was about service to others, above self.

I explained to them that the flag that they were raising was the flag used to drape a casket of another “Lt. Col.” from the Korean War and WW 2.

He surely would not have bickered over which one of them should raise the flag.

A few years later during the USWA flag raising , my friend Tom Tracy did the honors.

Tom also raised the flag.    He was a Viet Nam veteran, Tom was also kind of a hippie, free spirit and he was a full patch member of the  El Forastero’s, He was not a Lt. Col.

When Tom arrived to raise the flag for the United States National Championship he arrived in his full military dress, his brasses were polished and his demeanor was purposeful.

He did this country proud and the people that delivered the flag raising address were also renown, they were Peace Corp Volunteers, they too served their country and made us all proud.

Tom raised the flag with thousands of people appreciating his service and dedication.

Thirty five minutes ago Tommy died of Covid 19.

Tom survived Viet Nam, he would want nothing more than for you to listen to science and scientists, healthcare workers and doctors.

I suspect my friend will be buried in the coming days, he will be one of a number of friends that have succumbed to this virus.

If you profess to honor this nation and if you profess to honor veterans of past wars.

Recognize that my friend Tommy survived Viet Nam and his most recent battle was with the Covid virus.

He would want you to conquer it also.

Beat your chest with the patriotic fervor that could conquer this pandemic.

Abide by the advise of science, scientists, healthcare workers and doctors.

We will bury Tommy by ourselves. bk

14 Replies to “The development of friendships”

  1. All of us have great stories about Tom Tracy! A very kind soul ‘ Wonderful smile that lights up a room’ he grew up in Cherry point where my uncle Doug and my dad grew up ‘ He would tell stories from my dad that died in 1983 50 years old’ and he always had a twinkle in his eye ‘s talk about an icon ‘ he was larger than life ‘ A gentle giant’ Our little town will never be the same’ rest in peace Tom! God Bless!

  2. Tom lived in Cherry Point and we lived on West Shore Druve. I was pretty young but I remember some kids were bullying my sisters and me in the bus. Tom and his brother did not get off the bus in Cherry Point but stayed on the bus and near us. They got off at our stop and walked back home. Later I moved across the street from his mom and got to talk to him a lot. Such a super great guy. Always helpful to anyone. He will be greatly missed.

    1. Tom and Mike were both kind of like big brothers to us. When we wanted to go up to Hatfield to see what it was all about, my mother said no. When we said that Tom Tracy would take us and watch out for us, then it was ok. We had a good time, but never went back. It was just a one time thing, and Tom made it possible.

  3. I have read many articles about Tom’s passing but yours by far is the best. Everyone loved Tom. Tom loved everyone but far more important, Tom loved his country. Rest well Tom. Rest well.

  4. Tom was a true patriot! He loved the country that we live in and was a friend to many! Touched a lot of people when he would hand the flag over at funerals. Always had a kind word to say to the family and he meant it too. He will be missed.

  5. I grew up in Cherry Point, spent a lot of time at the park across the street from Tom and his moms house. If Tom was outside in the backyard, he would be working on his motorcycle. I would sit and watch until he would take a break and push me on the swings. I knocked on the door many many times and asked if he could come out and push me in the swing ? he always did!
    Through the years it was always special to run into Tom. He remembered me and always had that wonderful smile. If you knew Tom Tracy, you loved Tom Tracy ?

  6. I have known Tom for alot of years like so many of us but haven’t seen him in a few. I’m sad that I wont be seeing him again. He always had a hug for me and for that I will be grateful! Missing you Tom!

  7. No matter what Tom had integrity and honor for everyone who served and even those who didn’t!
    I am happy to know he got his chance to raise the flag!
    Our Vietnam Veterans should have been honored from the get go! I was honored to know many of them! Lost a brother-in-law there he was KIA! The biggest moment in my life besides my kids and grandkids was standing in front of the Vietnam Memorial Wall!
    Tom continued his service by being a big part of your community!
    He earned his angel wings! And I know he is smiling down at his people even now!

  8. Bill, Thank you for the wonderful tribute to my Uncle Tom! He was indeed one of a kind with a gracious heart. Just for the record, Tom served as an Airman at Nellis AFB as an aircraft weapons mechanic and was discharged 11-26, 1963. He was never deployed to Vietnam. Tom’s memorial service will be held in Worthington on August 7th, 2021 with the location yet to be determined. Look me up and say hello.
    –Pete Tracy

  9. Thank you so much for this article. I realize that so many people grew up near Tom had a very special relationship with him & that alone says tons about his character. I did not grow up near Tom, but like so many other people in or around Worthington that knew Tom I still thought the world of him. My stepfather had a gas station on the corner of Grand & Oxford Street. Tom was a regular customer & had done many repairs on the premises. As I got to know & see Tom at various times, his interaction with many different people was awe-inspiring. I always looked up to him as well as wishing I got along with people as well as he did. Again, great article Bill & RIP Tom Tracy.

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