Tribute to our Veterans

As Veteran’s Day comes to a close, I thought I would share 2 of my posts from 2012 Memorial Day. I absolutely love these true stories…hope you find this repost inspiring.

Frequently on Memorial Day Dad would tearfully share his brother’s story. Dad was in the Air Force and stationed in the US; however, his brother was in the Army in the European Theater.

Uncle Walter was captured by the German’s during the January 1945 WWII Battle of the Bulge. He was thrown into Stalag IX-B, also known as Bad Orb, POW camp where he stayed for several months.

Somehow Uncle Walter was able to keep his cigarettes, which while they lasted, he was able to trade for food.

One cigarette = One potato…shared with other prisoners.

Held behind enemy lines in the worst conditions, Uncle Walter faced certain death…disease, starvation and cruelties.

Prisoners of Bad Orb were not provided soap or towels. There was only one water tap…cold water…for each 160 person barrack. There was just a hole in the ground for a toilet. By the end of the war the camp held over 4,700 American POWs, far more than it was equipped to handle.

There were no beds. Prisoners slept in shifts as there was not enough room on the floor for all of them at one time.

Remembering this family history I searched online the U.S. National Archives Stalag IX-B Prisoner of War records. There was his name…seeing his name in black and white was overwhelming. Although I had heard this story many times while Dad was alive, it just seemed more real today…more than just a family folklore.

Uncle Walter drove my maid of honor and me to our wedding. It was because of the April 2nd 1945 U.S. Liberation of the POWs at Bad Orb he was able to chauffeur us.

Dad said tanks crashed through the fences to free the prisoners.

I can’t even begin to imagine what was going through his mind when he was freed.

As I typed this post at this point in this entry I opened my Bible App to search for a Scripture…and God surely provided. The Scripture Verse for the day popped up…

“But I will sing of Your mighty strength and power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy and loving-kindness in the morning; for You have been to me a defense (a fortress and a high tower) and a refuge in the day of my distress.” Psalm 59:16 AMP

YES!! Oh, YES!! God is in the details.

Knowing Uncle Walter I am assured he knew God was his refuge in his days of distress. I am certain he sang of God’s mercies the day his status changed to LIBERATED.

 

Today as we celebrate Memorial Day I thank all the men and women who have served and are serving in our Armed Forces. It is because of your sacrifice I can worship my Lord without fear, write this without reprisal, and speak my mind.

Arlington 2012
Arlington 2012

Dear Reader, did you know that Memorial Day originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War?

Two generations before WWII, another relative was a POW ~ my great-great-grandfather.

My family is from New England but moved to the south in the 1940s. But yes, they were Yanks…I am a direct descendant of Governor Bradford who came over on the Mayflower and Davy Crockett ~ both on my Mother’s. Dad’s ancestors came from England and were mainly whalers.

I consider myself both a Southerner and a Northerner…an American!!

My great-great-granddad was a Union Soldier. Here is a recount of what happened as I remember it being told to me by my Father…

Richmond, Virginia. Federal soldier guarding canon.

Shortly after the US Civil War began, along with a fellow soldier, Dad’s great-grandfather was captured by a Confederate Army Unit. Not having a prison camp nearby, the officer in charge instructed a soldier to take the prisoners out into the woods and shoot them.

Walking into those woods ~ what could have gone through their minds? Prayers? Thoughts of family? Regrets? A means of escape? Probably all of these thoughts and more flashed through their minds.

My great-great-grandfather remembered learning the Grand Hailing Sign of Distress ~ a secret Masonic signal to be used only when one is in great distress.

As he finished waving his arms in the Grand Hailing Sign of Distress two shots were fired.

My Dad WWII Air Force
My Dad WWII Air Force

 

My Dad WWII Air Force
My Dad WWII Air Force

“Run!” said the Confederate Soldier, as he too was a Mason.

I am not going to enter into a discussion on the Masons…that is not the point…the point is that his life was spared because of his quick thinking and a bond that crossed over enemy lines.

Bonded by a promise to hasten to the relief of the person so giving the sign of distress.

And for that I thank God…I would not be here nor my other family members.

God had a plan…and I am glad I was a part of it years and years later.

Harry Emerson Fosdick said ~

The tragedy of war is that it uses man’s best to do man’s worst.

Thankfully in this situation, it was man using his best to do the best.

I salute our veterans and thank them for my freedom.

JIMMY CARTER said during his Nobel Lecture, Dec. 10, 2002 ~

War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.

PEACE ~

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LIFE IS A JOY…PASS IT ON!

Blessings, Susan

Susan Werthem is a Bible study leader, speaker and author.
She takes the Word of God and shares His truth in a humorous, unique and insightful way.
To contact Susan to plan a retreat or seminar Click here.

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