Niagara Gazette — Their sons have been dead for more than 40 years.
Many were teenagers who gave their lives fighting a hellish war on the other side of the earth. Some were battlefield heroes.
Their mothers will never forget the sacrifices their sons made. But now their sons’ stories will live on, thanks to a local author who has documented them in her new book, “Our Sons, Our Heroes.”
Linda Jenkin Costanzo of Clarence never meant to write a book about the Americans who died in Vietnam. She was only 14 when she first started hearing about the young soldiers who gave their lives fighting in America’s most unpopular war.
“I remember hearing and reading about kids just a few years older than me going off to war and not coming back,” she recalled.
Many years later, during a play at the Theatre of Youth in Buffalo, she sat next to a soft-spoken, white-haired lady. As they were chatting prior to the curtain rising, she learned the mother of four had lost a 19-year-old son in the Vietnam War.
Costanzo, whose twin boys were 11 at the time, couldn’t imagine the pain of losing a son. She wondered what happened to the nearly 60,000 moms who lost children in the Vietnam War. Something told her, “Go find out.”
That theater conversation led her on a decade-long quest to record some of the stories of the mothers whose children died in Vietnam. But she couldn’t remember the name of the woman she had sat next to and was left to simply wonder about that family’s story.
Her research garnered 15 stories. She met with mothers from across the country, including one mom from Grand Island, Shirley Luther. Luther’s husband, Laverne or “Bunny” as he was called, was supervisor of Grand Island for eight years.