FIRST THINGS

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Jason B. Harmon

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Loyd Brisco was an Ozark Mountain hill farmer. Born in the late 1920s, he was one of the youngest children of John and Lela Brisco, who were both homesteaders in the Arkansas backwoods. Loyd was also my great-great uncle.

As a farm boy, Loyd learned to scratch a living from the rocky land my family first settled before the Civil War, using mules and work horses instead of tractors to grow crops like oats, corn and sorghum cane.

Isolated on the farm miles from the nearest town, Loyd and his brothers and sisters plied their country skills to can food, make molasses and store enough feed for the family's animals through the winter.

The Brisco family was never rich, but they had almost everything they needed to live happily along the banks of the Buffalo River.

For years, it was a cycle that seemed nearly endless to the rural farm family, but that all changed with World War II.

When Loyd was drafted into the U.S. Navy in September 1944, he joined three of his brothers in uniform who all left the farm to fight the war.

Loyd and his brothers served proudly, but before he left for the Pacific, they were forced to find a new home for their parents who were too old to manage the rustic farmstead themselves.

Reluctantly and with heavy hearts, John and Lela moved away from the homestead, and watched their sons go off to a war from which they might never return. Although the family lost the farm they loved, Loyd and his brothers fortunately returned from the war without losing their lives. Yet, when Loyd arrived home, it wasn't the same.

Gone were the days of following the mule team as it plowed the fallow fields. Worst of all, his brothers and sisters were scattered to jobs in Kansas City and other towns, and Loyd knew his life on the farm was over. While he was certainly sad that he lost the country life he loved, Loyd was proud to serve in the military and defend the values passed down from his rural heritage. The old home may be gone, but the family farm is now owned by the National Park Service, preserved forever for all Americans to cherish, and Loyd rarely missed a chance to hike those hills until the day he died.

Loyd's story played out on farms across America, and many people were uprooted to serve their country. As Veterans Day approaches, be sure to remember those who made countless sacrifices - even losin' the family farm.