The Cold War in Idaho

Uncle Sam Calls a Six-Year-Old

By Ed Marohn

Photos courtesy of Ed Marohn

I stared at the framed certificate hanging on the wall with the other mounted items in my office—a sunny windowed room in our empty-nester home in Idaho Falls. I hadn’t looked at this document for years, so I took it off the wall and read it silently:

  “In recognition of your service during the period of the Cold War (2 September 1945–26 December 1991) in promoting peace and stability for this Nation, the people of this Nation are forever grateful.”— Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense.

I chuckled, remembering the year I had requested the certificate on a whim. While working at our corporate headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, I saw an article in the Charlotte Observer explaining how military personnel who served during the Cold War could get this document. At the time, more than twenty million requests were received by the Department of Defense. It’s a nice little document with my name printed on it and Mr. Rumsfeld’s signature automatically reproduced. It isn’t an award, just an acknowledgement—but that piece of paper holds memories. Therein, I suppose, lies its value.

Taken together, my wall hangings comprise a collage of frames enclosing documents that represent parts of my life during the Cold War and beyond. Some are harsh reminders of the human cost of war: the medals awarded me during my combat tour as a US Army captain on the killing fields of Vietnam. Other certificates, like my dogsled crossing of the Artic Circle in Lapland, Finland, in 2005, reflect better memories.

This document, however, drew me back to my childhood in Boise in the 1950s,  an intense period, firstly because of the Korean War and eventually because of Vietnam.

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