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One year ago this week my father, Louis Houston, passed away. We, his family, still miss him and always will. Dad originated the "Write On" column in the Herald-Leader years ago. His writing spoke to the hearts of many and seemed to resonate with the lives of the reader. The following column, "A Rose for Jodalee" is my favorite of his works. The story is true, sad, and tells the anguish of losing a loved one.

'A Rose for Jodalee'

Veterans Day dates back to Nov. 11, 1918, when World War I officially ended.

Each year on Nov. 11, citizens of the United States pay their respects to, and honor the sacrifices of, the veterans of all the U.S. wars then and since 1918.

Not long after Dec. 7, 1941, when I was 10 years old, I had six uncles and two cousins serving overseas in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Seabees.

One of the cousins, Jodalee Parsons, the eldest son of my mother's eldest sister, stands out in my mind among the family veterans.

Jodalee was only 17 when he managed to join the army in 1942. A slight, blonde-haired, green-eyed youth, he had dreams of becoming one of the top country-western singers.

He even had a 30-minute spot each Saturday morning on the local radio station.

Jodalee had taught himself to play the guitar at an early age.

He was good, and he knew it.

Normally a shy, soft-spoken boy, he was transformed into an entertainer when he had a guitar in his hands.

His singing voice was much like that of Ernest Tubb, whose "Walking the Floor Over You" was the most-played juke box song for a long time. It was one of Jodalee's favorites.

On his radio program, Jodalee talked about the new songs of country-western singers, then he sang and played his renditions of them.

I remember the last radio program Jodalee did before he left for the army. He called it his "rose show." He sang "One Dozen Roses," "San Antonio Rose," "The Yellow Rose of Texas," and "Red Roses for a Blue Lady." He ended with a song he had written called "Roses in Her Hands, Cheatin' in Her Heart."

Jodalee, a paratrooper, died in a cold, muddy trench from a savage German attack during the bitterly fought Battle of the Bulge, just a few weeks before his 20th birthday. In the last letter his mother received, he said what he wanted more than anything in the world was some clean, dry underwear.

Another young soldier accompanied the coffin containing Jodalee's remains to our home-town for a military funeral and burial.

The grief on the gray, snowy day of the burial was unforgettable.

The young soldier stayed a couple more days to comfort the immediate family. He and Jodalee's 18 year-old sister, Dorothy Jean, fell in love and were married the next year.

I exchanged letters regularly with all my uncles during WWII. Uncle Maurice, who called me his fishing buddy, wrote the following words to me.

"I hope to be back to take you fishing with me soon, but if I don't make it, think about our good times and remember that we are fighting this war so little boys like you will never have to fight in another war like this."

So many dreams have died from wars since that letter was written. Countless young men and women have paid for our freedom with their lives or injuries. God in Heaven, bless our veterans and their families, one and all. May we never forget them.

-- Devin Houston is the president/CEO of Houston Enzymes and son of former Herald-Leader columnist Louis Houston, who died in April 2017. Send comments or questions to The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 04/04/2018

Print Headline: Remembering dad with one of his best columns

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