Another year. Another memory. The facts speak for themselves.
On July 30, 1945, two months before the end of World War II, the United States Army War Department released a list of awards. The list included the name of a La Cañadan. The young man’s name was Dan Shuler. He lived on Lasheart Drive. He was awarded the Silver Star.
The Silver Star is the third highest medal that can be awarded to a soldier. It was awarded to 2d Lt. Daniel Shuler for “gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.”
The Silver Star is big deal. It is unusual for a small town to have a Silver Star winner in its midst.
We talk about heroes and heroism in many contexts. I am a big-time Dodger fan, but baseball players are not heroes. They are athletes. I’ll watch any movie starring Harrison Ford, but actors are not heroes. They are actors. Whether you watch Fox or MSNBC, news anchors are not heroes. Elected officials are not heroes.
Celebrities are not heroes. They are just celebrities.
Our kids are hard wired to seek out heroes. There’s a TV series called “Heroes.” There are comic books, excuse me, graphic novels about Super Heroes. There’s a Wii game called “Guitar Hero.”
Dan Shuler of Lasheart Drive was not an singer. He was not a professional ball player, but he did have a hero. In his wallet was a photograph of his next-door neighbor and best friend, Ross Woodbury, killed in action in Tunisia, two years before.
When Dan Shuler’s mother opened the telegram in April 1945, she read these words: “We regret to inform you that your son, Lieut. Daniel Renault Shuler, U.S.A, was killed in action in Germany on April 8, 1945.”
Dan Shuler was 23. He was an only child.
Dan Shuler won the Silver Star because when his platoon (Company D, 273rd Infantry Regiment, 69th Division) came under mortar fire near a village called Hanovers-Munden in Germany, he single-handedly attacked the mortar crew that was firing at his men. He lost his life in the process.
By September, the war was over.
For a while, people in La Cañada remembered Dan Shuler and Ross Woodbury. Knew their names and what they did.
For a while.
Next year, on Memorial Day, we hope to include Dan Shuler’s name, and the names of other fallen heroes, on plaques in Memorial Park, La Cañada Flintridge.
ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.