Delbert Benton survived the slings and arrows of this world for 88 years. Benton survived the Great Depression. He survived the deprivations of the Dust Bowl. He survived the multiple ailments, such as polio, which lay in wait for so many of his generation. He survived World War II, although the Battle of Okinawa left him with the parting gift of a Japanese bullet in his leg. After risking his life to save the world from the threat of fascism, Benton returned to his home and lived a peaceful life as an employee at Kaiser Aluminum.
Benton survived far more than most people are ever asked to endure. He never wrote a bestseller, recorded a chart-topping tune, starred in a blockbuster Hollywood movie, sat on the board of some multinational conglomerate, ran for public office or hosted a syndicated TV show. The footprint Benton left on the world was comparatively small.
Indeed, Benton may have lived a life that seems, upon examination, to have been fairly unremarkable. But it likely meant everything to those who loved him — among them a cancer-stricken son who learned of his father’s fate while fighting cancer in the same hospital to which his dying father was rushed following the fatal assault. The sacrifice he and his compatriots risked on the beaches of the Pacific absolutely meant everything to a grateful Nation. And while he may have lived a life quite ordinary by a celebrity-obsessed culture’s standards, he deserved a better end than being beaten to death by a couple of junior varsity thugs in a parking lot.
As a father, Benton deserved to bid farewell to his family. As a man, he deserved to meet his maker on his own terms. As a warrior who put his life on the line for his country, he certainly deserved better than to meet his maker at the hands of flashlight-wielding trash who ought to have been offering him a light for his cigarette, if not the respect worthy of a survivor of so much.
At the very least, he deserved better than to have his commander in chief ignore his senseless and brutal demise. In the wake of the equally senseless and brutal murder of Chris Lane, President Barack Obama’s mouthpiece claimed he was “not familiar” with the case. I remarked at the time that Obama seemed at far less a loss for words following the death of a kid who apparently reminded him of his imaginary son. The murder of Benton elicited nary a peep from the President and his front men.
Mr. President, I’ll remember Delbert Benton; but he still deserved better than to be forgotten by you.