Let me introduce you to Cliff Burnett.
Cliff is a regular at the Lavaca Senior Activity Center. He is quiet, slow to speak when he finally does speak and is just taking life as it comes.
Cliff was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. At the tender age of eighteen, Uncle Sam and the United States Army desired his presence in World War II. His orders were to go to the Pacific fronts but his unit was quickly turned to Europe at the “Battle of the Bulge.” Cliff and his men followed the army and their battles and, after the Red Cross collected the wounded and the dead, they cleared any weapons, helmets, etc., left behind. He looked at me with eyes moist with tears and recalled following one battle where he and the others collected weapons within a football-sized field literally covered with dead men. They had to step over and around the bodies to do their work. “Those were someone’s sons,” he said softly.
Cliff made it home safely and met a little lady named Colene Wright. They married and lived in Memphis for a time. They were blessed with three children: one girl and two boys. After moving to this area, Cliff took a job at Dixie Cup in Fort Smith until he retired.
Cliff has a severe hearing loss and misses most of the conversation. That’s why he sits so quietly since he can’t hear or participate in the discussions. He may look as if he is in his own little world but it’s only due to the deafness. He loves to visit and reminisce and can put the hurt on you in a checker game.
After the dominoes are put away, the Bingo game finished, tables being cleared and people begin leaving, Cliff sometimes sits in the windows and waits for his beloved daughter to arrive to drive him home. Even at the age of 94, this old boy, one of the last of America’s Greatest Generation can still hold his own. I will be forever grateful to have met him and to now call him my friend.