I want to live for peace. Peace in my life. Peace in the life of my family. Peace in the world.
My dad, who was a WWII veteran, and amputee because of it ~ spent the last years of his life as an advocate for peace. He spoke at many schools. One time Shaw Cable produced an interview that a student had done with my dad being interviewed. My dad went to war. He said it was the thing to do! Each young man wanted to fight for the King. In my dad's family - two of them went to war. Both returned, however they returned with many scars of war - some visible, most not.
My dad used to tell the kids that were spellbound ~ listening to his story ~ that we have to live in peace. That War should not happen again.
When my dad went to war, he left behind a mom and dad (and many siblings). His mom gave him something to take. It was a little black leather New Testament. She asked him if he would promise to read from it each day that he was away. My Grandma Thomas - I wished I had known her. A woman of great faith. A woman who embraced life to the fullest. A woman who loved her family so much. I can only imagine the hug that she gave to my dad - her son who was 3rd youngest in a family of 13. Or should I say I really can't imagine. I have had to send my son off to study in a different city - and that was hard enough. I have never, Thank God, had to send my son off to fight in a war.
My dad loved his mom. I know that just from the way I saw him talk about his mom. At this time, before he left, he promised her that he would read it. And, my dad said that he did. He read it every day - even if it meant reading it while sitting in the latrine. My dad also said that he carried this New Testament in the inside breast pocket of his uniform.
My grandmother's faith was strong. At the point where my dad went away to war, he knew about God but had never given his life personally to Jesus. He had never made that choice, for whatever reason. But, I have no doubt that he knew what it meant to accept Jesus forgiveness, and what it meant to make Jesus Lord of his life. He just did not see the need. After all, he was young - just barely a man - and he had his whole life ahead of him. He surely didn't need God at this point. I have no doubt that my grandma was on her knees in prayer ALOT while my dad was growing up and then away fighting a war.
Fighting was his choice. Fighting was his obligation. He went away strong, healthy, full of life and ready to do what needed to be done for the sake of freedom.
My dad was hurt in Italy. A country that is so full of romance these days. It held many memories for my dad. Memories that woke him up in a cold swet often during his nights. Memories that he kept hidden away for the most part - except for the obvious schrapnel wounds, and the very visible loss of a leg. My dad began to tell his story in written form, about the night a shell landed close to where he was in the trenches. He said that he laid there for a very very long time. In fact, so long that when his comrades found him - they thought that he was dead.
He said that as he laid there thinking that this was his end, his thoughts turned to his Mother. He remembered how she had asked him to read his bible daily. He said he laid there knowing that if he died, he would die without giving his heart to Jesus BUT he said that he hoped that his mom would think that perhaps he had, and that she would have some peace thinking of that. I found that really interesting. Interesting that there he was - faced with death (which he thought was just a matter of time) and yet he still did not choose Jesus as Lord. There was no deathbed conversion happening. That to me is very very interesting. It was not until my two sisters were born that my dad gave his life to Jesus Christ at a gospel meeting at St. James Gospel Chapel. And he lived all out for the Lord for the rest of his life - fully embracing the grace that he experienced, and the forgiveness of sin! Thank you Jesus!
As a little girl - I remember sitting on my dad's knee and taking my finger and touching his scars and asking him why he had them. His answers were always short - and I didn't ever ask him more. My mom told me how hard it was for him to learn how to walk again. She met him at Deer Lodge Hospital when he was flown home from the hospital in England. It sounded like love at first sight. My dad however had to learn how to adapt to life minus a leg. My dad had a girlfriend then who didn't have time for him any more when she realized life would not be the same. My dad had been a dancer, and a square dance caller ... how in the world would he dance now!! My mom told me how, when he began to use crutches, and then to get used to using an artificial leg - that he fell alot. She talked about how she would want to run and help him, but my dad did not want help. And he for sure did not want any pity!
As a little girl I remember when my mom would let me take out his medals and look at them. I remember asking about them and imagining them pinned to my dad's uniform. As a little girl I would look at the picture of my dad as a soldier, that my mom had on the dresser. Handsome as all get out!
The picture taken before his life and mind was filled with the horrors of war.
War - should never happen again.
We have to live in peace.
These were my dad's words.
In fact, my dad died November 2 - just mere days before he was scheduled to speak again at Sun Valley School.
We must never forget. NOT that we are glorifying war, but that we will remember not to take freedom of country for granted.
We must never forget the families that lost loved ones on the fields during WWI, WWII and all of the wars that have been fought, and are being fought right up to the present day - combat missions.
The tears that run down the faces of the mothers ...
The broken hearts.
The sacrifice of life - for "freedom"
O Lord, let there be peace on earth and please let it begin with me! This is my prayer on this day when I am choosing to remember the past. Let peace begin with me!
This version of In Flanders Fields was written by Helen Litz, and sung by her choir, Winnipeg Mennonite Children's Choir. Ashley (my daughter) sang with the choir from time she was 9 till 18. It is a beautiful but haunting rendition.