Boulder City Magazine® February, 2011 Issue
by Fran Haraway
Leave No Brother Behind: A Sister’s War Memoir
by Jan Christian
In 1965, I moved to Boulder City, began attending Grace Community Church and became a close friend of its Sunday School Director, Kris Ellison. Soon, I met Kris’s parents, Maxine and Bob Christian, and her younger siblings, Bobby and Jan.
Boulder City Magazine®
|The friendly, attractive, outgoing and energetic Christian clan only intensified my belief that this town was a perfect place, far removed from the world’s misery. Then, in 1969, my comfort myth was exploded by the shot that killed Bobby Christian in Viet Nam.
I was shocked and saddened by Bobby’s death, but soon life intruded again, and on I went. The Christians, however, didn’t fare as well. As Jan Christian recounts in her amazing book, Leave No Brother Behind: A Sister’s War Memoir, her family’s life became divided into before and “. . . after we lost Bobby.”
A few years after Bobby’s death, Jan and her parents moved to Arizona. But when Jan attended her 20th Boulder City High School reunion, she was given an article about Bobby’s firefight. Fifteen years later, her son, Luke, gave her a website mentioning Bobby. She began contacting Marines who had served with him. Soon emails, phone calls, a box of letters rediscovered and personal contacts morphed into reunions. More than that, men who never could verbalize what happened to them found people who understood. Families who couldn’t help because their men couldn’t share were told about their loved ones’ experiences, and the healing could begin. Finally, Jan and Luke visited “The Bobby Place” near a dike in Viet Nam where they encountered Vietnamese families who had suffered as theirs had.
Jan, who grew up going to Grace Community Church, left the Church in the Viet Nam War and returned in the Gulf War, this time to become a minister in the Unitarian Universalist Church. The mantra she cites to explain her amazing encounters with Bobby’s comrades is, “The winds of grace are always blowing.” Someone once wrote, “We die twice - once when our hearts stop beating and once when our stories cease to be told.” Bobby Christian died once.
If you are interested in this book or would like to learn more, contact me at info@bouldercity magazine.com.
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