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Veteran's Appreciation
November 10, 2021, 8:27 AM

Dear Friends,

            As we pay tribute to veterans this Thursday and this coming Sunday, my mind wanders back to childhood memories of my family Veteran discoveries made on family vacations to my Cartwright grandparent’s house in the rolling hills of northern Missouri. It was a two-story farmhouse with most of the upstairs empty of furniture, save for my uncle’s room that had sparse bedroom furniture in it and the “battery” room. Those were the only two rooms we were not allowed to play in or explore. There were odds and ends in the other rooms and closets, which I found entertaining to look through.

            On one trip, when I was five or six, I found a box of military patches in one of the closets which I proceeded to spread out on the floor. I am guessing that they had been gathered by either my dad, Grandfather, or Uncle. I asked about them, what they were for, and where they came from, but I remember not getting as full an answer as I was hoping.

            On another trip, a year or so later, my sisters and I were playing in the basement this time, and we were asked to bring up a laundry basket of clean wet clothes (they still had a wringer washing machine and used a clothesline). The laundry basket was next to a 6” X 6” post and up on a nail was an old looking, tan canvas bag with what looked like a vacuum cleaner hose dangling out of it going to a goggle type mask. I could not get it down, it was too high up, so I asked my grandpa what that thing was downstairs hanging on the post? My description of it was confusing, so he went back downstairs to see what I was asking about. He told me it was his old gas mask from the war, but he did not take it down. I had no idea what war; Vietnam had not begun for the U.S. yet. That “war” became a focus for me on future trips to the farm. I learned that my grandpa had served in World War 1 as a medic and that his unit had had to use their gas masks from mustard gas attacks. He never talked about what he had seen and experienced as a medic. A few years later, I intuitively guessed that it had been bad when he refused to go out on the front porch to watch us grandchildren pop a few firecrackers for the Fourth of July. In his eighties, the explosions of firecrackers were still a memory trigger for him of what he had been through as a 17 to 19-year-old.

            On one trip, I discovered my Dad’s Army uniform hanging in a garment bag. It looked like it had just come from the cleaners. I had no idea Dad was even in the military, much less the Army – he never talked about it at home. Also in the closet, on the shelf above was a military sword --which was a major attraction for an eight-year-old! I started to bug Dad to tell me about the uniform, why he wasn’t still wearing it, why he just left it in the closet on the farm, and when and if he wore or used the sword? I learned that he was in the Korean War, in the First Cavalry Division, training as a spotter for a howitzer unit in Japan. He was fortunate to have still been there when the ceasefire was declared.

            Like Roy and Walt, my Dad put on his old uniform a couple of months ago. It still fit and he took a few pictures. He donated his uniform then to a small rural museum up close to the farm.

            Those who have served our nation have come from all walks of life. Some were farming people, like my dad and grandpa, and others from urban and metropolitan areas. They did not know what they would experience or even if they would survive, but they pledged themselves to serve their country, nonetheless. We/I am grateful for their commitment and service, and for many, what they must bear in their hearts and minds when they come home! Thank you for Your service!

          We look forward to saluting those who have served in worship on Sunday as Roy McAlester brings special music and The Rev. (Captain Chaplain, retired USN) Wm. Kyle Fauntleroy brings our morning message. I look forward to seeing you then!

In the risen Christ’s service together wherever He leads,