Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fine Men

Kyle at the Statehouse - May 2011

Today is all about Kyle. It's not his birthday. Not any sort of significant day regarding Kyle but he is on my mind. Probably because he never ceases to amaze me with what an incredible person he is.

I had  the joy of attending a memorial service with him Sunday afternoon. Most might not think that is something to be joyful about but it was a Celebration of Life for Mr. Richard Wheeler, a WWII veteran friend of Kyle's. Mr. Wheeler wanted a celebration and his wife honored those wishes.

He was an amazing man who has had a huge influence on Kyle. They have spent many hours together talking and having lunch at meetings. We  visited Mr. Wheeler's home which Kyle said is like a museum! He got the special tour while I was meeting with Mr.Wheeler's wife. There were books and military medals galore. Kyle had a ball and Mr. Wheeler did too. Packages with DVD's, articles, and notes arrived frequently in the mail. Along with many veterans, Mr. Wheeler would bring Kyle books to read. He has so much to read he doesn't need to go to the library since the library comes to him! So many of these men want to pass along things to Kyle to help teach him and preserve their stories. This has become a passion for Kyle and the men in the Veteran's Chapter he belongs to have taken him under their wing.

When we were at the Veterans Meeting last Wednesday, Mrs. Wheeler asked me if Kyle could say a few words at the memorial service. When I told him about the request his first words were he needed to do it.

Before he left for his Boy Scout camp Friday he sat down and wrote his memorial speech. When he asked me to come read it I had tears. He wrote straight from the heart. Took him no time at all, he knew what he wanted to say.

If you have never heard Kyle deliver a presentation, you are missing out on a wonderful speaker. It is truly a gift, one that he gets from his Dad. He has such a presence when he is up in front of people and it comes across as sincere and confident. You can tell he enjoys doing it and in this case he was so honored and proud to do this for Mr. Wheeler.

But what I love most about my son, he comes back to sit next to me in the pew (of course my tears are flowing) and he puts his arm around me, hugs me, and pats my shoulder. He always does this whenever we are at something that makes me emotional. He always has that hug, comforting arm, and sweet words. Always asks if I'm OK.

From the time he was very little we always thought he had such a deep soul that really felt for other people unlike many other kids his age. He is so empathetic, so genuine and sincere. He is more than I ever dreamed of what he would become and he is not quite 15 years old.

So yes, attending a memorial service with my son was a joy. I was beaming with pride as the line formed afterward to talk to him and hear about his relationship with Mr. Wheeler. He was so proud to be there and honor such a great man. Much like I am honored to be Kyle's mom.

Below is Kyle's eulogy for Mr. Wheeler:

The hardest part of preparing this speech for today was trying to think of a way to describe Richard Wheeler. He was a kind, thoughtful, and dedicated man, dedicated to his faith, dedicated to his family, dedicated to his fellow veterans of the Second World War and preserving their stories.

My name is Kyle Miller; I first met Richard Wheeler at a meeting of the Litsinberger chapter for Veterans of Battle of the Bulge in November 2008. Because of my interest in military history, particularly World War 2 I wanted to meet some of the men who had lived and fought in this greatest of wars and hear their personal stories. Mr. Wheeler was one of the first to share his experiences with me, but of course when you have as many incredible stories as he did no one could ever hear it all in one meeting. Whenever I saw Mr. Wheeler at a veteran’s chapter meeting he would always have a story about World War 2, whether about his own experiences, his paratrooper unit, or anything else involving the war he always had something I wanted to hear. I often received large envelopes in the mail that would have magazines, photos, and DVDs related to World War 2 that Mr. Wheeler knew I would like. I learned a lot of a critical time in human history because of Mr. Wheeler and from a perspective I could never have gotten on my own or in a book or in a movie. It was a human perspective from a human who lived through it. But more than a history lesson, I got something significantly greater. I gained a very good friend, one who was kind and supportive, one who was fun and smart, and one whom I will miss very much. Mr. Wheeler always said the true heroes are in the cemeteries, but I always saw him as hero in life, and I know that now and for all eternity Richard Wheeler will reside with the greatest of men.

Thank you.


Laura said...

Margot, these words about Kyle are so sweet! I'm sure he'll treasure them always.

Kyle, your words about your friend are so beautiful and well written. I'm sure his family felt blessed and honored by them. Good job!

Gretchen said...

Tears as well..... wonderful job Kyle!