At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the guns fell silent. The soldiers quietly climbed out of their trenches and looked across the lines warily. Then they carefully withdrew to begin the slow process of putting their lives back together.
At about 14:00 hours that day, a young man, 17 years old, who had enlisted at the age of 14 was riding his motorcycle down a back road in France, heading for Headquarters with messages from the front lines. His rear wheels skidded a bit on a corner and tripped a mine which had been planted in the side of the road. He was badly injured and the motorcycle was totally wrecked.
He picked up the courier bag and set off, limping, for Headquarters, which was in sight in the hollow below him. By the time he got to the encampment, he was crawling, but he delivered the messages.
After many months, he was returned to his family, missing his left arm at the shoulder, a large bit of his left thigh and about half of his left foot. It took many more months before he was full able to survive on his own. He managed to get some more education and supported himself and his wife and children doing office and accounting work. His final job was with the Boulder Dam construction project in Boulder City, Nevada. He then retired to a little house on Avenue I, in Boulder City.
While he lived there, he befriended and mentored a child who lived next door. He taught him how to garden in that desert climate, how to do things that required 3 hands, as he did things which required 2 hands. He taught him how to shape wood with basic hand tools and produce fine products for loved ones. He taught him how to look at rocks as more than flinging-at-birds objects. He taught him how to ask very personal questions without prying into very personal parts of a person's life.
Rest in Peace, Jim Salee. I loved you, though I didn't know how to show it well.