When George Brummell was a young boy growing up in the small town of Federalsburg, Maryland he never dreamed his life choices would take him across the globe. Born a few days after Christmas in 1944, Brummell’s early life on the Delmarva Peninsula was full of mischief, ruckus play and hard work. Like many of his peers and even more of the adults in Caroline County, Brummell spent many summers picking tomatoes and cucumbers and hoeing in the fields alongside his grandmother. In the 1940’s and 50’s life in the small shanty filled town was tough, but the love was enduring. Yet, Brummell wanted out! He soon tired of his own antics of late night gambling and high school malingering and sought a new life in the United States Army.
Brummell recalls that Ground Hog Day 1962 was the day he escaped his small town dirt road life and boarded a train that took him and his childhood buddy to South Carolina for a basic training. He and his pal were later shipped to Korea into another world of dirt roads, shanty structures and poor folks. He soon fell in love with the hidden beauty of Korea and the comradery that his new military family offered.
His life took a drastic turn on sunny June day in 1966 in remote patch of land in Vietnam when his company was sent out to assist with sweeps for landmines. One mine detonated and exploded earth, machinery and Brummell’s view of the world. He was left blind and severely physically disabled. Following numerous surgeries, he was able to regain use of his arms and mangled hand, but his sight would not return. Skip forward to 1998 when Brummell returns to the streets of Vietnam with cycling champion Greg LeMond and other veterans on a goodwill tour riding on a tandem bicycle.
Sergeant Brummell’s story is one of tenacity, loyalty and turning a nightmare into a dream that few have opportunity to realize. Pick up a copy of Shades of Darkness and read about the life of this very courageous and compassionate soldier who rose up through the ranks to become the National Field Service Director of the Blinded Veterans Association and a well sought after public speaker.
On this Memorial Day, let’s remember what sacrifices our fellow citizens have made and the many blessings for which we each have to be so grateful.