Just rambling thoughts about anything that happens to be on my mind and that usually isn't much!
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Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Debt of Gratitude

A few years ago, a retired preacher from a nearby town was to hold our morning and evening services while our own preacher left for a family gathering on Memorial Day weekend.  The Warden, known for her hospitality, invited this elderly preacher and his wife to dinner and to spend the afternoon with us while awaiting his second service. 

After dinner, he and I moved to the recliners of the living room while his wife and the Warden cleared the table.  Because of the great age difference, we were having somewhat of a difficult time with conversation topics, so I flipped on the History Channel and turned the volume down real low.  I was previously aware that the History Channel was going to air a Memorial Day Special on WWII all afternoon and I had planned on watching it.  I thought perhaps it might also be a conversation starter for us ..... I had no idea just how correct that would be.

As his wife and the Warden joined us, the segment just starting on the History Channel was the landing at Normandy.  I mentioned my admiration for those soldiers who climbed off the LCMs facing insurmountable odds.

"They expected a 70 percent causality rate," was his mater-of-fact reply, "or at least that is what they told us."

"Us?" I repeated as I turned the volume completely down.

"I landed with the second wave at Utah."

He seemed willing to talk so I turned off the TV and listened all afternoon to his first hand account of the invasion of Normandy, the liberation of France and ultimately Europe.  He told of his part in the Battle of the Bulge as a foot soldier under Patton.  With tears forming in his eyes, some of the carnage of two concentration camps in Austria.  The afternoon was over much to soon and my history lesson ended.  As we got up to leave, his wife of well over 50 years stated she had heard more that afternoon of his WWII experience than in all the 50 plus years of their marriage combined. 

"He just never talks about it." she explained. 

I have noticed that too, most veterans know we ... those of us who have never served in that manner .... won't completely understand.

And that is what this short blog is about ... an attempt to thank those "common people" who has kept this nation free ... the school bus driver who fought at Anzio ... the school teacher who as a marine landed on islands in the south Pacific ... the banker who flew spotter planes in Viet Nam ..... the college professor who fought in Korea ... the farmer who as a medic rode helicopters under fire into the rice paddies of Viet Nam to retrieve wounded soldiers ..... the rancher who laughs as he recounts some funny happening in the jungles, then cries when he recalls a buddy's name ... the list goes on from history ... and the list continues to grow with Iraqi Freedom.

Again, I thank you for your service.



MUD said...

Our country was founded by the strength of our people and their willingness to fight for what is right and to make us free. The biggest secret is not just that we had a military but it is made up when needed, by the most common man. Most of US that served just faded back into society and lived normal lives. A few of us stayed for the long haul but out there is a country filled with people that are just keepin' on keepin' on. A Medal of Honor winner once told me that what he did was one of the most stupid things he had ever done. Why did he do it? for the wounded Marines he was treating. The only reason he was still here was that damn grenade he jumped on didn't go off until he threw it back. MUD

Robb said...

Great tribute. Memorial Day weekend is one of my favorites. I enjoy watching the ceremony at Arlington on the holiday. We do owe those guys who, as Mud said, faded back into society and lived normal lives. God bless 'em!

In_spired said...

It saddens me that the service of these great men is so foreign to our younger generations. Even in recent wars, our service men and women are not held in esteem as they should be.

You have a great post here about your history lesson from one 'who was there'. Bless him and others of his generation.

Thanks for your visits and comments to For the Love of Home. I've been remiss in visiting others. There's been a lot to keep me busy in the old Hometown.

Hopefully, this summer will bring more blog time. Have a great day, Kansas Cowboy!!

Jenni said...

Lately I have almost regretted how we spent so much of our time when my kids were younger doing veteran interviews, working the traveling Vietnam Veterans Wall, decorating graves on Memorial Day and Veterans Day and all those other things we did at Scouts and Young Marines. Did I push my son toward the path he's chosen? I only wanted my children to have the same pride in and respect for our country and the brave men and women who have fought for it that I have. I hadn't really considered the possibilities. Not for my son or daughter. Not as this war continues. Not as my faith that we are doing the right thing is (not gone but) shaken. Your post reminds me of all those things I was once so sure of and again I think maybe I was right after all to teach those things. It can't have been wrong at least. I am grateful. And I will continue to pray that our leaders will seek God's counsel and that they will do the right thing. Most of all I will pray for the health and safety of our military men and women. May God bless their efforts and service.

Jenni said...

Everything okay over there? I heard you got some pretty big hail your way Saturday. We just got the edge of the storm. I said a little prayer for you and the Warden on my way to Wichita that morning. I hope you didn't get hit too hard.