This year, Memorial Day really hits home. In the past, it’s always been the typical, “big-picture” holiday for me. Held in reverence, to be sure, but I never connected it to something personal. At 8:25 PM on May 19, Gerald “Peter” Hughes passed away peacefully. While Memorial Day is technically to honor those who died while serving their country—to me, it’s equally a time to honor those that didn’t but who gave a piece of themselves nonetheless.

Peter was such a man. I could write a book about him. His service. His love of country. His anguish. But most importantly, his humanity. I don’t think I have ever had the privilege of knowing such an interesting, thoughtful, and cheerful man—despite the demons he carried back from Vietnam.

So many memories are flooding through my mind that I can barely process them. He had a tremendous, lasting, and positive impact upon me. Indeed, upon everyone who was blessed to have crossed his path. Blessed is an appropriate term here—as among other things, Peter had been a Catholic priest—and a Trappist monk for ten years. Read More.