Family, history, health, war, love and death are all part of the story told by a new song Waubonsie Valley High School's Wind Ensemble will premiere during a concert Thursday night.
"It's chock-full of symbolism," Duker said about the song his family commissioned.
"Elegy for the Wall's Unnamed" memorializes Vietnam veterans affected by Agent Orange, the blend of herbicides used during the war that now has been linked to a long list of devastating diseases. These veterans are not named among the 58,000 on the Vietnam Wall Memorial in Washington, D.C., yet the Duker family knows the depth of their sacrifice.
"The average person doesn't realize how many people 'survived' Vietnam, came back from their service, but are still giving their lives for their service," said Duker, whose father died from health problems eventually attributed to Agent Orange. "We think there's just more to the story."
Edgar Paul Duker served in the Army in Vietnam before forging a long career as a music educator, junior high principal and community band director in Quincy, Illinois, along the banks of the Mississippi River.
"Music is so much a part of our family," said Suzi Duker, Paul's wife and Mark's mother.
The elder Duker died in 2013, but his health problems began 28 years earlier, when at age 45 he began experiencing high blood pressure. He later suffered heart trouble from an Agent Orange-linked condition called ischemic heart disease, undergoing two rounds of bypass surgery and having 17 stents inserted into his heart. He lived years with only one kidney, but kidney cancer struck the remaining organ near the end of his life.