Your View

Your View is the place for opinion at It is the site's only blog. Please submit your opinions to be considered for publication on this site. The best opinions are those supported by facts. You cannot expect to be published if your views lack factual support or if you make personal attacks. For your views to be published, your full, real name is required.
3 minutes reading time (510 words)

A brother remembers: On Memorial Day, nothing is ever laid to rest

The following entry -- about my brother, Col. Tom Sprague, MD, U.S. Army retired -- was first published in 2010 and published every year since to highlight military service on Memorial Day: 

Tom Sprague, 2008 N.Y. Times photo

"JPAC team on mission to recover remains of U.S. service members missing from WWII" (Stars & Stripes, August 2009) and "Teams Seeking Remains Dig Back to World War II" (New York Times, September 2009)

In the latter link, click on the slide show link to see Tom's team at work.

This is meaningful work. Its result bring home long-undisclosed truths to families who have moved from the shock that a loved one is missing to long years of numb unknowing. It is also work that raises questions about the value of persistent memory.

*   *   *   *

Tom and I have not always gotten along. Born 16 months apart, we suffered through young years as "twins" (we have looked nothing alike since we were teens, and our towheads matched better in preschool years). We roomed together in college, in the '60s, but already differences in attitudes made us steer clear of one another.

After Tom went into the Army, which later sent him to medical school, and I protested the Vietnam War, our diverging paths were set for years.

For me, long hair, folk music and journalism. For Tom, a career as an Army doctor, rising to colonel and the head of pathology at Walter Reed. After that, he got another degree, this one in forensic anthropology, and put his service to our nation by uncovering bones in Southeast Asia, Korea, Germany and Iraq, later identifying them in Hawaii.

As the years passed, I felt our differences ease. I began to see beyond the uniform to the humanity within.

A couple of years ago, we attended a joint reunion of our high school classes (1961-62) in Pennsylvania. We took a side trip into the rolling hills of Upper Bucks County to a cemetery where Tom's son had lain since he died of cancer, nearing age 10, in 1978. Side by side, we stood over the stone of little Tommy, quiet in the September afternoon. We didn't say much, but I felt that, for a moment, we had put the old animosities aside and that we were the brothers we had long avoided.

This memory takes me back to 1970, my first Memorial Day as a young reporter, feeling fresh the scar of Kent State, my antiwar fervor unhidden in the words I wrote then for a local daily newspaper.

The horror of war seemed so senseless then, and I targeted the military as complicit instruments in that horror. Overall, I still feel this way today, though I do see a need for national defense -- and define that need beyond guns.

Yet, as we remember our veterans this Memorial Day, 40 years later, I feel a deeper compassion for those who have embraced the military.

Thank you, brother, for your service.

This viewpoint was published May 24, 2010, and updated in 2022. 

Location (Map)

Letters: Emailing Advocate & Star? Copy it here; i...


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Already Registered? Login Here
Thursday, 01 December 2022
If you'd like to register, please fill in the username, password and name fields.

Captcha Image

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to

Media partner

Site stats: November traffic | Cambridge Day: News >> 

YOUR VIEW: Opinions: Giving, poetry, thanks, water, Clark, farewells, Alewife, Mugar

Latest comments

Guest - Jane Arnold Alewife Brook sewage campaign: Meet Sunday
13 November 2022
Sometime about 1998 four children, ages 7 and 8, spent several hours retrieving trash from Alewife B...
Bob Sprague Letters: Emailing Advocate & Star? Copy it here; it'll be published first
17 January 2022
Let the public know with a letter to the editor. For details, see

Your Businesses

Your People

Barbara McOwen.

McOwens: A half-century Highland fling

One small corner of the world's heritage of tunes and dance, thousands of miles away from where they began, is being kept fully alive by two longtime Arlington residents. Preserving traditions underlying Scottish fiddle music and Highland dance are Barbara and Robert McOwen. INSIDE ARLINGTON:Among…
Marie Krepelka is awarded the Paul Harris Award by Arlington’s Rotary Club, 2018. Photo – Ashley Maher

Veteran Select Board administrator Krepelka dies

Marie Krepelka was awarded the Paul Harris Award by Arlington’s Rotary Club in 2018. / Photo by Ashley Maher UPDATED Nov. 1: Two days after Arlington’s Select Board honored its longtime administrator, Marie A. (Spelman) Krepelka has died. At the board’s Oct. 24 meeting, members and town staff…

Housing Authority

FACEBOOK BOX: To see all images, click the PHOTOS link just below


Support YourArlington

An informed Arlington
keeps democracy alive

Why we are your news source >>

Donate Button

YourArlington is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
Your contributions are tax-deductible.

Your Arts

Your Restaurants

Your Events

Your Police, Fire

Your Democracy

Your Housing

Site Partners