Since the Civil War, someone from pretty much every generation on the Sivits family tree has served in the military. When Daniel Sivits was a kid, his uncle, Carl Sivits, fought in the Korean War. Carl came back, but he could no longer handle life, and one night he ended it with a shotgun.

This was in southern Pennsylvania, where the Allegheny ridge runs up against Maryland and West Virginia. Dan grew up in a little town called Hyndman, with his mother, his younger brother Charles, and his stepfather Bill, a coal miner. The family lived in a small house in a hollow by Wills Creek.