Gold Stars and Purple Hearts

They gave me a purple heart. You can have it. I don't want it any more. ... Don didn't even get a purple heart until way after he died. [Sinks down to the ground, sobbing, ... Purple hearts and gold stars. Why? Why? Why?

Gold Stars and Purple Hearts

A coal miner, Don, drafted to fight with the elite Rainbow Division in WWI under General Douglas MacArthur; a pregnant wife with a toddler whose relationship with her mother-in-law is constantly strained; a mother whose love for her son had her leave her Appalachian Mountain home and travel to France on the Gold Star Mothers Pilgrimage in order to take the mountains to her son and bring her son back to the mountains; and Dons son who fights in WWII with the elite Devils Brigade, the first Special Forces Unit in the U.S. Army, are remarkable because these events really took place. This six-act play is the story of two men and two women whose lives were intertwined through blood and war. Sarah Williams Dyson (1874-1957) grew up in the North Carolina mountains with her country doctor father. Sarahs only son, Don, married Vennie Lee Shull in 1914 and moved to Dante, Virginia, to work in the coal mines. Dons draft into WWI in 1917 came at a time when married men were not subject to the draft. In 1923, Vennie remarried. After Vennies divorce, Sarah, 12 years after her sons death, was invited to view Dons tomb-rock in France with other mothers and widows. In 1942, Sarah and Vennie had to watch Dons son, Claude, volunteer to fight in WWII even though he was exempt from fighting since he was the only son of a casualty from WWI. Remembering his dads only written message to him: Dont never be a solder my boy, Claude returned home severely wounded. Don and Claude both received purple hearts and other medals for their bravery. This breed of historian forsakes the myths and yellow journalism and delves into the lives of the characters through primary sources of journals, military records, letters, family Bibles, and first-hand knowledge of neighbors, family, and friends of the characters in the play.

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