A life of service

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. James Williams
  • 153rd Logistics Readiness Squadron
It's 1969, Richard M. Nixon is in the Oval Office, "The Brady Bunch" is on television, the hippies are at Woodstock and Neil Armstrong is the first person to set foot on the moon.

In 1969, the men and women of the armed forces are at war in Vietnam while our nation is at war with itself, its civil rights and its identity.

Across the country, be it college professors and their students, political leaders and their pundits or religious leaders and their flocks, thousands of ordinary Americans protest our involvement in Vietnam War and will rally at bases, ports and depots to personally insult, mock and denigrate our service members on their return home.

But to thousands of other Americans, the War in Vietnam is more than just a headline on the nightly news or a rallying cry for agents of national policy change. For many American families, the war in Vietnam is personal and it hits home.

In 1969, less than a year after graduating from Cheyenne's Central High School and leaving his home near Little Bear, less than six months after his 18th birthday and within weeks of beginning his first tour in Vietnam, Pfc. Dennis B. Farris is killed in action.

In 1969 his mother, Berniece Farris, decided to honor her son with a lifetime commitment to those affected not only by the current war but all wars.

She has made weekly visits to the Cheyenne Veterans Affairs Hospital, where she delivers hand crafted tokens of compassion.

These tokens are what she calls "comfort pillows" and, for almost half a century, Farris has lovingly fashioned approximately 9,000 pillows for American veterans of wars spanning an entire century.

Veterans, from the World War I to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, have been comforted by her compassion and kindness. They've been consoled by her willingness to show her gratitude for their service by the giving of a small gift, a sincere hug or by simply being there.

With the assistance of the Cheyenne VA's Voluntary Service Program chief, Linda Brown, and Voluntary Service specialist, Cindy Stockdale, Farris has garnered the help of like-minded patriots from throughout the region to help the healing process for service members and their families. Her devotion to her son's memory and the comfort brought to countless veterans over the years makes her a true American hero.