Why Teachers Are Heroes

Vicki Soto
Victoria Soto – An American Hero

I have been a teacher and a coach for 30 years. My mother was a teacher for more than 45 years and my wife, and now recently, my son, are teachers. It have always found it intriguing, personally as a teacher and coach, and by watching other educators, how possessive and protective that we can become with our students. The fact the we spend almost 8 hours a day with them, five days a week (or more), can lead teachers to have those kinds of relationships.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise to me, that when a calamity or a dangerous situation takes place, a teacher can become a fierce defender and protector of their charges…sometimes giving the ultimate sacrifice…their lives, for their students. That’s why, a story like the following one that I found on Oddee.com, touches my soul so deeply.

Aside form this, teachers can also have an effect on a young person’s life and their future, by the example that they demonstrate each day in their classroom or on the field. It’s the reason why, in my opinion, teachers will always be heroes.

“Like astronauts, every good teacher is a hero. It bears repeating that the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary should never be forgotten.

On December 14, 2012, 26 people – 20 students and 6 adult staff members – were shot and killed at Sandy Hook in Newtown, CT.

A 27-year old teacher, Victoria Soto, sacrificed her life when she hid her students in a closet to protect them from crazed gunman Adam Lanza. When Lanza entered her classroom, she told him that the students were in the gym. The terrified kids started running from the closet and Lanza began shooting. Soto threw herself in front of the children and was killed. The last moments of her life were spent protecting her young students by using her body as a shield against bullets from the deranged madman’s gun.

Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach sprung into action, but were killed when trying to keep Lanza from entering the building. Teacher Lauren Rousseau hid her students in the bathroom in her attempt to protect the children and also died while doing so.

District Superintendent Janet Robinson noted these and other “incredible acts of heroism” that “ultimately saved so many lives.””

A True Hero for Humanity

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Your Life Is Not Your Own

german
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

This is a re-post of an article that I posted a couple of years ago around Memorial Day. It is a powerful message that you will not soon forget. This an amazing account of incredible sacrifice during World War 2 involving simple towns people. Warning: Tissues WILL be required!

Around this time each year, Memorial Day, I am reminded of a story that I once heard. Though the exactness of it I cannot confirm, I am assured its basis is quite factual, and its message definitely deserves to be retold.

The story is of a man, Andrew, who was known all his life for selfless sacrifice and good works. He always stood in defense of the defenseless, and toiled without tiring, standing up for the downtrodden and underprivileged. As he grew old, and people tried to honor him for his well-lived life of service, he was reluctant to accept the praise and attention that his community desired to heap upon him. It was then, for the first time, that he told a story that had burned deep in his heart and was hard for him to relate.

Andrew was a young man, thirteen years old and living in Austria, when the Germans invaded. The Austrians, brave and proud, decided to fight back. In the town where Andrew lived, the men and teenage boys organized and destroyed a power plant that the Germans relied on to continue their war effort. The men and boys all knew this would cause great hardship on themselves as well, for they also relied on the power from the plant. But the thing they had not counted on was the swift and severe retribution that would come from the Nazi invaders.

The next morning, before the sun was even up, trucks rolled into town. Soon, the sound of marching soldiers was heard in the streets. The men and boys of the town, twelve years old and older, were ordered to the town square. Andrew found himself standing in a line with the other men and boys, still trying to wipe the sleep from his eyes.

The commanding officer berated them, and told them they were fools to think they could stand against the might of the German army. He told them they were nothing, and their minuscule efforts would not slow down the German war effort, but it would hurt them because a price was going to be paid for their rebellion. He then said that every 20th man in the line would be shot.

As each 20th man was pulled from the line and marched away, Andrew looked down the line and started counting. With horror, he realized that he stood in a 20th position. He trembled with fear as the soldiers moved closer and closer to him, and the shots started to ring out at the edge of town where the unfortunate men were being taken.

As the Germans continued to move down the line, Andrew could see others counting and their eyes turning to him with a look of pity and concern. Andrew found himself wanting to flee, but too frightened to move. Even if he tried to run, the soldiers on the trucks, with the mounted machine guns, would cut him down before he could get ten yards.

But then, in the instant that the last man before Andrew was pulled from the line, the Germans turned their eyes away, and Andrew felt a hand on his shoulder. The hand tightened quickly, and before he knew what had happened, he was jerked forcibly over one spot, and the old man who had been standing next to him moved swiftly to switch positions.

Andrew looked up at the silver haired man and the man smiled. Just before he was taken from the line and led away, the old man spoke quietly to Andrew. “Your life is no longer just your own. Live it for both of us.”
Andrew watched silently as the old man disappeared from view toward the edge of the village. His heart jumped as the shots sounded, shots that Andrew knew should have been his own. In that instant, tears flowing down his face, he determined he would indeed live his life for both of them. From that day he had tried to live so that the unknown old man would have felt his sacrifice was well repaid.

Each time I consider the flags flying by the many graves in the cemetery, thinking back on Andrew’s story, I realized that no one’s life belongs just to them. Each of us owes a debt to many who have paid prices through hardship, hard work, and even the sacrifice of their lives, from which we have benefited.

With the wind gently whipping the flags in the breeze, I, too, renewed my own dedication in how I live my life.
———————————–
(Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at daris@darishoward.com; or visit his website athttp://www.darishoward.com)

Beneath the Wings of God

Photo Credit: Unknown
Photo Credit: Unknown

An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God’s wings. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree.

Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings.

The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. Then the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.” (Psalm 91:4)

Being loved this much should make a difference in your life. Remember the One who loves you, and then be different because of it.

Have an awesome day and remember this great promise!

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Source: heartwarmingstories.net

The American Flag: 13 Folds of Honor

Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack via CC Flickr

Memorial Day is a day observed by millions of people in the United States of America in remembrance of men and women who sacrificed their time, careers, and lives for their country.  America is not the only country which honors their military…many countries around the world do the same in some fashion.

The history, rituals, and the customs of the United States Military has always fascinated and intrigues me. I hold in highest esteem and respect, all people who have sacrificed their time and/or their lives for their country.

A military tradition that has always been deeply moving to me, is watching the person of a fallen spouse or child, receive the folded American flag during a funeral ceremony.

I often wondered the story behind the folded flag. Why is it folded in that particular manner? What does each fold represent? What is the history behind it?

I recently read a short article on the internet site, Folds of Honor, which answered my questions. It is for this reason that I thought that this would be a great article to share with you. I hope that this story will enlighten and encourage your heart as much as it did mine!

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The folded flag has long been a dual symbol of sacrifice and the cost of freedom as well as hope and admiration for those defending our country. As we transition into using the folded American flag as the Folds of Honor logo, please take a moment to read what each of these folds represents:

The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

The fourth fold represents our weaker nature; as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace, as well as in times of war, for His divine guidance.

The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.

The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty, and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.

The 10th fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.

The 11th fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The 12th fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.

When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it has the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under Gen. George Washington and the sailors and Marines who served under Capt. John Paul Jones and were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the U.S. Armed Forces, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.

Have a Wonderful Memorial and that the ones who serve for us now and remember the ones who paid the ultimate price for the freedom that we can enjoy today!!

Incredible Facts of D-Day

Photo Credit: Expert Infantry via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Expert Infantry via CC Flickr

This year, June 6, 2014, marks the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. The site, http://www.army.mil/d-day explains D-Day in a short but descriptive way: “On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which, “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Continental Europe. The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 Soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolph Hitler’s crack troops.”

World War 2 and D-Day has always been intriguing to me, so I decided to look around the web and collect some interesting and fascinating details about this historic day. In the list below, next to each fact that I posted, I listed the name of the website in which I found the specific fact. So, without further ado, here we go…

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The largest seaborne invasion in history – CNN

The invasion’s secret code name was Operation Overlord. – CNN

Condoms were issued to soldiers – most were used for covering the end of their rifles to keep them dry. – Express.co.uk

Although June 6 is often called D-Day, D-Day is also a generic military term that stands for the day, D, of any major attack. – Ducksters.com

The overall military operation was called “Operation Overlord”. The actual landings at Normandy were called “Operation Neptune” – Ducksters.com

The Allies created a ruse to convince the Germans that the invasion would take place at Pas de Calais instead of the Cotentin Peninsula. According to the U.S. Army, a dummy base was constructed out of plywood, and inflatable tanks were placed to create the illusion of a massive army division. – NewsYahoo.com

The invasion location was cloaked in secrecy and rumors. Allied leaders were constantly trying  – soldiers knew the exact date, time, and location of the attack until the last minute. All training maps for troops had false names to keep the secret intact. – Warhistoryonline.com

The main reason for the secrecy was that the Germans had 55 divisions stationed in France, and the Allies could only bring in about eight divisions to attack on D-Day. – Warhistoryonline.com

Famous German General, Field Marshall Rommel, was nowhere near France on June 6. He was celebrating his wife’s birthday in Germany during the invasion. – NewsYahoo.com

There were 6,939 naval ships deployed, holding 195,000 sailors. – Warhistoryonline.com

The flat-bottomed landing craft were originally designed to rescue flood victims on the Mississippi river in the US. – Express.co.uk

The first two British soldiers that were killed on D-Day were Lt. Den Brotheridge of the 6th Airborne Division and Lance Corporal Fred Greehalgh. Brotheridge was shot in the neck while leading his platoon, and Greehalgh immediately drowned when he stepped out of Brotheridge’s glider. – Warhistoryonline.com

The first U.S. soldier that died on D-Day was twenty-eight year old Lt. Robert Mathias of the 82nd Airborne Division. He sustained a bullet wound in the chest right before he jumped out of his aircraft. He commanded his men to follow his lead as he jumped from the plane and died mid-air. – Warhistoryonline.com

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with over 160,000 troops landing on 6 June 1944 – and 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved. – .Dailymail.co.uk

The landings took place along a 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. – Dailymail.co.uk

Approximately 10,000 allies were injured or killed. – Dailymail.co.uk

Between 4,000 and 9,000 German troops were killed – and it proved the pivotal moment of the war, in the allied forces’ favor. – Dailymail.co.uk

Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was asleep when word of the invasion arrived. No one dared wake him and it’s said vital time was lost in sending reinforcements. – Express.co.uk

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Let’s take some time during this time of year to thank our veterans for their honor, bravery and the sacrifices that they gave for the freedoms that we enjoy each day.

Your Life Is No Longer Your Own (Tissues Required)

Photo Credit: Wikimedia
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Read an amazing account of incredible sacrifice during World War 2 involving simple towns people.

Around this time each year, Memorial Day, I am reminded of a story that I once heard. Though the exactness of it I cannot confirm, I am assured its basis is quite factual, and its message definitely deserves to be retold.

The story is of a man, Andrew, who was known all his life for selfless sacrifice and good works. He always stood in defense of the defenseless, and toiled without tiring, standing up for the downtrodden and underprivileged. As he grew old, and people tried to honor him for his well-lived life of service, he was reluctant to accept the praise and attention that his community desired to heap upon him. It was then, for the first time, that he told a story that had burned deep in his heart and was hard for him to relate.

Andrew was a young man, thirteen years old and living in Austria, when the Germans invaded. The Austrians, brave and proud, decided to fight back. In the town where Andrew lived, the men and teenage boys organized and destroyed a power plant that the Germans relied on to continue their war effort. The men and boys all knew this would cause great hardship on themselves as well, for they also relied on the power from the plant. But the thing they had not counted on was the swift and severe retribution that would come from the Nazi invaders.

The next morning, before the sun was even up, trucks rolled into town. Soon, the sound of marching soldiers was heard in the streets. The men and boys of the town, twelve years old and older, were ordered to the town square. Andrew found himself standing in a line with the other men and boys, still trying to wipe the sleep from his eyes.

The commanding officer berated them, and told them they were fools to think they could stand against the might of the German army. He told them they were nothing, and their minuscule efforts would not slow down the German war effort, but it would hurt them because a price was going to be paid for their rebellion. He then said that every 20th man in the line would be shot.

As each 20th man was pulled from the line and marched away, Andrew looked down the line and started counting. With horror, he realized that he stood in a 20th position. He trembled with fear as the soldiers moved closer and closer to him, and the shots started to ring out at the edge of town where the unfortunate men were being taken.

As the Germans continued to move down the line, Andrew could see others counting and their eyes turning to him with a look of pity and concern. Andrew found himself wanting to flee, but too frightened to move. Even if he tried to run, the soldiers on the trucks, with the mounted machine guns, would cut him down before he could get ten yards.

But then, in the instant that the last man before Andrew was pulled from the line, the Germans turned their eyes away, and Andrew felt a hand on his shoulder. The hand tightened quickly, and before he knew what had happened, he was jerked forcibly over one spot, and the old man who had been standing next to him moved swiftly to switch positions.

Andrew looked up at the silver haired man and the man smiled. Just before he was taken from the line and led away, the old man spoke quietly to Andrew. “Your life is no longer just your own. Live it for both of us.”
Andrew watched silently as the old man disappeared from view toward the edge of the village. His heart jumped as the shots sounded, shots that Andrew knew should have been his own. In that instant, tears flowing down his face, he determined he would indeed live his life for both of them. From that day he had tried to live so that the unknown old man would have felt his sacrifice was well repaid.

Each time I consider the flags flying by the many graves in the cemetery, thinking back on Andrew’s story, I realized that no one’s life belongs just to them. Each of us owes a debt to many who have paid prices through hardship, hard work, and even the sacrifice of their lives, from which we have benefited.

With the wind gently whipping the flags in the breeze, I, too, renewed my own dedication in how I live my life.
———————————–
(Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at daris@darishoward.com; or visit his website at http://www.darishoward.com)

 

When Life Is Gray

Life is a funny thing…there are times when a person feels great about themselves; their self-esteem is at an all-time high, everything in the world looks and feels as beautiful as a cool, crisp autumn day…nothing can be better.

Then come the “down times” in life; the moments in life when an individual feels as if they are beaten, battered, and worthless. It seems as though nobody cares about what they say (or do), their self-confidence is gone and life just seems to be going nowhere.

It is during these rough times that two kinds of people are made; those who dwell on the negative and are forever stuck in the quagmire of worthlessness and self-doubt or the folks that deal with bad situations by determining what they can learn from their situation and use it in a positive way to help themselves and encourage others.

In today’s story, we see how ONE PERSON saw a heartbreaking situation and decided to do something encouraging…and notice the effect it had not only on the individual that was dealing with the hardship but how it affected the other people around him. What started out as an INDIVIDUAL act of kindness turned into an experience in which a GROUP got involved and turned a depressing situation into a fantastic experience for everyone that took part in the activity.

Also, observe the affect it had on the person that was receiving the encouragement. It’s truly amazing when you watch the affect of what a group of people, all focused on one goal in a positive manner, can accomplish.

The power of positive thinking, encouraging others and the ability not to stay “bogged down”, not only allows a person to feel better about themselves, but demonstrate an act of compassion that can not only help themselves but enhance other peoples feeling of worth.

So, the next time you are “down and out” and life throws you a “curve ball” (or even if you are enjoying a “high” in life)…think to yourself…what am I doing with the gifts and abilities that I have been blessed to have? Am I going to wallow in self-pity or am I going to decide to try and make a difference in another person’s life and be an encouragement to the people and friends around you…like the one man started in the video?

What can you do when your life is a gloomy and ominous?? Help and encourage other people. You will be surprised how quickly your view on your life will chance.

So…what are you going to do?  The choice is yours.

Every Flag Tells a Story At Mobile’s Historic Magnolia & National Cemeteries

Photo Credit: blog.al.com
Photo Credit: blog.al.com

The one thing I enjoy is looking for inspiring and heartwarming stories of all kinds of occasions, experiences and places around the world. Recently, I came across the following article, which, to me, was an interesting and heartwarming story of a national cemetery in Alabama. Since the story and the happenings in the cemetery take place only twice a year (Memorial Day and Veterans Day), I thought that it would be something nice to share with you as we celebrate Memorial Day!

The Avenue of Heroes at Magnolia Cemetery is one again festooned with American flags, thanks to family members who have donated service members’ casket flags. Flown twice a year, at Memorial Day and Veterans Day, the flags line the cemetery’s entrances at Ann Street and at Virginia Street.

The cemetery started the program with the first display of flags in 2007.

The Veterans Administration honors deceased veterans with a large, 6-foot-by-8-foot flag to drape over his or her casket at the funeral. Traditionally, the flag is folded and handed to the surviving spouse after the service. “Most people get one and think, ‘What do I do with this?'” said Tom McGehee, president of the Friends of Magnolia Cemetery. “Then they sit on a shelf or in a closet.”

After a flag is donated to the cemetery, it’s hung from a pole with an engraved plaque attached that includes the veteran’s name, rank, branch of service and war, if applicable, said Janet Savage, executive director of Magnolia Cemetery.

It takes two days for Mark Halseth, cemetery superintendent, to put up all the flags. As of today, 65 flags are flying at the cemetery. “The Internet is amazing,” said Savage, noting that 24 of the flags are from out of state from families who learned about the program online.

Savage’s own uncle’s flag is among those flying at Magnolia. “He was missing in action in World War II, and his flag had been in the closet for 60 years,” she said. “There are a lot of stories out there.”

“It really is a pretty sight on a breezy day,” said McGehee.

When the flags are taken down, they’re stored at the cemetery office until the next holiday. The Friends group even bought a dryer to completely dry the flags before they go into storage.

For more information about the Avenue of Heroes program, contact Janet Savage at (251) 432-8672.

Meanwhile, each of the 3,867 graves at the adjacent Mobile National Cemetery received a miniature American flag, stuck 12 inches from the front of the headstone, on Friday, as they do every Memorial Day.

Usually, a group volunteers to put out the flags and pick them back up, but this year no one stepped up, said Larry Robinson, program support assistant at Barrancas National Cemetery at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola.

“We have a contract to put out the flags in case we don’t have volunteers,” Robinson said.

In Pensacola, Boy Scouts are volunteering to adorn the markers of some 30,000 graves, he said.

Established in 1865, Mobile National Cemetery holds the remains of veterans of eight wars: the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, War Between the States, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War, according to a Department of Veterans Affairs brochure.

National Cemetery is a closed cemetery, meaning no more interments can take place there.

Memorial Day: A Time to Remember

 

Photo Credit: Me, Coach Muller
Photo Credit: Me, Coach Muller

It has always fascinated me how many people have sacrificed their lives or the quality of their life for the freedom that all Americans enjoy every day. I can’t imagine the impact that these misfortunes have on not only the soldiers, but the lives of their families and friends.

I always take the time each Memorial Day to think of the soldiers and the freedom that we have and say a little prayer for all of those who are in harm’s way today.

Unfortunately, I am embarrassed and sorry to say, that I don’t think many people REALLY are grateful for the many things that they take pleasure in because of what our soldiers and veterans have sacrificed. It is for that reason that I decided to post some statistics of all of the wars that America has fought. I have found the following information on the “Department of Foreign Affairs” website called “America’s Wars.”

It is my hope that these stats will open your eyes and give you a clearer picture of exactly how much has been sacrificed for this country during the past 200 years or so.

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American Revolution (1775-1783)

Total U.S. Service members (1) 217,000

Battle Deaths 4,435

Non-mortal Woundings 6,188

 

War of 1812 (1812-1815)

Total U.S. Service members 286,730

Battle Deaths 2,260

Non-mortal Woundings 4,505

 

Indian Wars (approx. 1817-1898)

Total U.S. Service members (VA estimate) 106,000

Battle Deaths (VA estimate) 1,000

 

Mexican War (1846-1848)

Total U.S. Service members 78,718

Battle Deaths 1,733

Other Deaths (In Theater) 11,550

Non-mortal Woundings 4,152

 

Civil War (1861-1865)

Total U.S. Service members (Union) 2,213,363

Battle Deaths (Union) 140,414

Other Deaths (In Theater) (Union) 224,097

Non-mortal Woundings (Union) 281,881

Total Service members (Conf.) (2) 1,050,000

Battle Deaths (Confederate) (3) 74,524

Other Deaths (In Theater) (Confederate) (3), (4) 59,297

Non-mortal Woundings (Confederate) Unknown

 

Spanish-American War (1898-1902)

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) 306,760

Battle Deaths 385

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 2,061

Non-mortal Woundings 1,662

 

World War I (1917-1918)

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) 4,734,991

Battle Deaths 53,402

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 63,114

Non-mortal Woundings 204,002

Living Veterans 0

 

World War II (1941 –1945)

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) 16,112,566

Battle Deaths 291,557

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 113,842

Non-mortal Woundings 670,846

Living Veterans (5) 1,711,000

 

Korean War (1950-1953)

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) 5,720,000

Total Serving (In Theater) 1,789,000

Battle Deaths 33,739

Other Deaths (In Theater) 2,835

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 17,672

Non-mortal Woundings 103,284

Living Veterans 2,275,000

 

Vietnam War (1964-1975)

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) (6) 8,744,000

Deployed to Southeast Asia (7) 3,403,000

Battle Deaths (8) 47,434

Other Deaths (In Theater) (8) 10,786

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) (8) 32,000

Non-mortal Woundings (9) 153,303

Living Veterans 5, 10 7,391,000

 

Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-1991)

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) 2,322,000

Deployed to Gulf 694,550

Battle Deaths 148

Other Deaths (In Theater) 235

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 1,565

Non-mortal Woundings 467

Living Veterans 5, 10 2,244,583

 

America’s Wars Total (1775 -1991)

U.S. Military Service during Wartime 41,892,128

Battle Deaths 651,031

Other Deaths (In Theater) 308,800

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 230,279

Non-mortal Woundings 1,431,290

Living War Veterans11 16,962,000

Living Veterans (Periods of War & Peace) 23,234,000

 

Global War on Terror (Oct 2001 – )

The Global War on Terror (GWOT), including Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), are ongoing conflicts. For the most current GWOT statistics visit the following Department of Defense Website: http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/gwot_component.pdf

________________________________________________________

NOTES:

1. Exact number is unknown. Posted figure is the median of estimated range from 184,000 – 250,000.

2. Exact number is unknown. Posted figure is median of estimated range from 600,000 – 1,500,000.

3. Death figures are based on incomplete returns.

4. Does not include 26,000 to 31,000 who died in Union prisons.

5. Estimate based upon new population projection methodology.

6. Covers the period 8/5/64 – 1/27/73 (date of cease fire)

7. Department of Defense estimate

8. Covers period 11/1/55 – 5/15/75

9. Excludes 150,341 not requiring hospital care

10. Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) estimate, as of 4/09, does not include those still on active duty and may include veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

11. Total will be more than sum of conflicts due to no “end date” established for Persian Gulf War.

Source: Department of Defense (DOD), except living veterans, which are VA estimates as of Sep 2010.

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Take time each day to thank a soldier or a veteran for the sacrifices that they have made!!

Photos That Speak Volumes #44

Photo Credit: KRMG.com
Photo Credit: KRMG.com

The boy’s mother found Ryan Wise sitting with the large picture of his father in the corner of a room and snapped what may become one of the most iconic photo’s of our time.

Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Wise, 34 of Little Rock  Arkansas was a Special Forces soldier and father of three. He was severely injured during an operation in Afghanistan in January of 2012. He was hospitalized but died a week later from his wounds.

There is a website dedicated to Sgt. Benjamin Wise, “In Honor of Benjamin Wise.” I would like to ask you to visit it and take a moment to reflect on the lives of ALL of our heroes!

Freedom Comes With A Price

Photo Credit: Wonderlane via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Wonderlane via CC Flickr

Freedom. There is nothing that is more valued and treasured by an individual. It is that one word that has made millions and millions of people to decide to come to America to live…free to worship, speak, travel, salute the flag, and many, many other wonderful things but freedom is NEVER free! Down through the ages, a great many number of people have sacrificed their lives, their lifestyles, the security of their families and friends…all for the right to enjoy the fruits of Freedom.

We all know about the Declaration of Independence which was created and signed over 200 years ago but what isn’t well known by many people, is the sacrifice and cost that many of the men who signed the declaration suffered.

Kenneth L. Dodge, in his book, Resource, wrote: “Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. Their conviction resulted in untold sufferings for themselves and their families. Of the 56 men, five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army. Another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships of the war. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships sunk by the British navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in poverty.

At the battle of Yorktown, the British General Cornwallis had taken over Thomas Nelson’s home for his headquarters. Nelson quietly ordered General George Washington to open fire on the Nelson home. The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt. John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their thirteen children fled for their lives. His fields and mill were destroyed. For over a year, he lived in forest and caves, returning home only to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later, he died from exhaustion.”

We should all take the time each day to be thankful for the freedom and everything that we have because of the sacrifice of others.

Freedom is a great thing…but so is Sacrifice.

Dressing A Soldier For The Last Time

 

Photo Credit: Sheep Dog - Impact Assistance's
Photo Credit: Sheep Dog – Impact Assistance’s

This is a picture the military has never let anyone see until now.

This is a picture behind the scenes at Dover Air Force Base where the bodies of fallen soldiers are prepared for burial.

And that includes being properly dressed, all the way down to the smallest detail.
In this picture Staff Sgt. Miguel Deynes is making sure the uniform is just right for an army pilot recently killed in Afghanistan.

There is a very specific process once a fallen soldier is returned home.

The bodies are flown back to the U.S. on a cargo jet.

A team of service members wearing white gloves carries the coffins, covered with flags, to a white van that takes them to the Armed Forces Medical Examiner.

The remains are washed, the hands are scrubbed clean, and the hair is shampooed. If necessary bones are wired together and damaged tissue is reconstructed with flesh-toned wax.

Sometimes they will use photos, sometimes just intuition to recreate the wrinkles in faces, and the lines around the mouth or the corner of the eyes.

“It has to look normal, like someone who is sleeping.”

Once the body is ready then the uniform is prepared.

That includes putting medals in the proper order on the ribbon rack above the jacket’s breast pocket.
During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 10 to 20 bodies were arriving every day.

The embalmers often worked all night to get the bodies home on time. That can take an emotional toll so the mortuary has a large gym so workers can blow off steam.

Many say they are haunted by how young the fallen soldiers are, and by how many of them leave behind small children.

That’s why Sgt. Deynes says they are advised not to do research into the backgrounds of the soldiers.

“If I knew the story of every individual who went through here, I would probably be in a padded cell.”
The dress uniform being prepared in this particular case will be in a closed casket.

Even so, it will be perfectly tailored, starched and pressed. Everything will be checked down to the last detail.
Sgt. Deynes says, “They’re (the family) not going to see it. I do it for myself. It’s more than an honor it’s a blessing to dress that soldier for the last time.”

NEVER FORGET OUR FALLEN HEROES!!

An Unimaginable Love: The Pain and Suffering of Jesus

Photo Credit: Waiting For The World via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Waiting For The World via CC Flickr

It is a sad reality in today’s world but more and more people have decided that having a relationship with God isn’t worth it. It is a waste of time and that there are other things in their lives that are more important. In addition, a good number of individuals don’t think too highly of God’s son, Jesus. They believe he was just a soft-spoken, wimpy-type man who didn’t have the guts to stand up to anyone and just had an easy life here on earth.

Most people know that Jesus was crucified on a cross but not many people REALLY know the unimaginable amount of pain and suffering that he endured before He died.

He following account is a vivid description of what it was like to be whipped / scourged then crucified on a cross…much in the same ways that Jesus experienced. The descriptions of these procedures are pretty graphic, so read on with caution…but I want you to remember this: Jesus went through all of this because HE LOVES YOU. If you were the only person to ever have inhabited the earth…He would have still have gone through this…for you!!
———————-
The physical trauma of Christ begins in Gethsemane with one of the initial aspects of His suffering – the bloody sweat. It is interesting that the physician of the group, St. Luke, is the only one to mention this. He says, “And being in agony, He prayed the longer. And his sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground.”
Though very rare, the phenomenon of hemathidrosis, or bloody sweat, is well documented. Under great emotional stress, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat. This process alone could have produced marked weakness and possible shock.

After the arrest in the middle of the night, Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas, the High Priest. A soldier struck Jesus across the face for remaining silent when questioned by Caiaphas. The palace guards then blindfolded Him and mockingly taunted Him to identify them as they each passed by; they spat on Him and struck Him in the face.

Condemned to Crucifixion
In the early morning, Jesus, battered and bruised, dehydrated, and exhausted from a sleepless night, was taken across Jerusalem to the Praetorium of the Fortress Antonia. It was there, in response to the cries of the mob, that Pilate ordered Bar-Abbas released and condemned Jesus to scourging and crucifixion.

Flogging First
Preparations for the scourging are carried out. The prisoner is stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached to the ends of each. The heavy whip is brought down with fill force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back and legs.

At first the heavy thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles. The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows.

Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is stopped.

The half-fainting Jesus is then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with His own blood. The Roman soldiers see a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be a king. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a scepter. A small bundle of flexible branches covered with long thorns is pressed into His scalp.

Again there is copious bleeding (the scalp being one of the most vascular areas in the body). After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from His hand and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they tire of their sadistic sport and the robe is torn from his back. This had already become adherent to the colts of blood and serum in the wounds, and its removal, just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, cause excruciating pain – almost as though He were again being whipped, and the wounds again begin to bleed.

The Walk to Crucifixion
The heavy beam of the cross is then tied across His shoulders, and the procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves and the execution detail, begins its slow journey, The weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious blood loss, is too much. He stumbles and falls. The rough wood of the beam gouges into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tries to rise, but human muscles have been pushed beyond their endurance.

The Nails of Crucifixion
At Golgotha, the beam is placed on the ground and Jesus is quickly thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep inot the wood. Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The beam is then lifted in place at the top of the posts and the titulus reading “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” is nailed in place.

The Pain of Crucifixion
The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each. As he pushes Himself upward to avoid the stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones through the feet.

Crucifixion – The Medical Effects
As the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles, knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by His arms, the pectoral muscles are unable to act. Air can be drawn into the lungs, but cannot be exhaled. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, He is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen.
Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins. A deep crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.

The compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues – the tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to the brain. Jesus gasps, “I thirst.”

Crucifixion – The Last Gasp
He can feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues. With one last surge of strength, He once again presses His torn feet against the nail, straightens His legs, takes a deeper breath, and utters His seventh and last cry, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.”

Apparently to make doubly sure of death, the legionnaire drove his lance through the fifth interspace between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. Immediately there came out blood and water. We, therefore, have rather conclusive post-mortem evidence that Out Lord died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.
Condensed from “The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ” by C. Truman Davis, M.S. March, 1965. Source: ethoughts.org
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The GREAT NEWS about this story is that three days after Jesus died, HE ROSE AGAIN and was seen by more than 500 people. THAT is what makes a relationship with God and Jesus so special…We worship a LIVING God!! and we can communicate with Him at anytime.

THAT is the real story of Easter…and the story of the God that I love and serve.

”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him WILL NOT PERISH but WILL HAVE…ETERNAL LIFE! ~ John 3:16

The China Earthquake: “You Must Remember That I Love You”

Mother and Child 1This is a true story of a Mother’s Sacrifice during the China Earthquake.

After the Earthquake had subsided, when the rescuers reached the ruins of a young woman’s house, they saw her dead body through the cracks. But her pose was somehow strange that she knelt on her knees like a person was worshiping; her body was leaning forward, and her two hands were supported by an object. The collapsed house had crashed her back and her head.

With so many difficulties, the leader of the rescue team put his hand through a narrow gap on the wall to reach the woman’s body. He was hoping that this woman could be still alive. However, the cold and stiff body told him that she had passed away for sure.

He and the rest of the team left this house and were going to search the next collapsed building. For some reasons, the team leader was driven by a compelling force to go back to the ruin house of the dead woman. Again, he knelt down and used his had through the narrow cracks to search the little space under the dead body. Suddenly, he screamed with excitement,” A child! There is a child! “

The whole team worked together; carefully they removed the piles of ruined objects around the dead woman. There was a 3 months old little boy wrapped in a flowery blanket under his mother’s dead body. Obviously, the woman had made an ultimate sacrifice for saving her son. When her house was falling, she used her body to make a cover to protect her son. The little boy was still sleeping peacefully when the team leader picked him up.

The medical doctor came quickly to exam the little boy. After he opened the blanket, he saw a cell phone inside the blanket. There was a text message on the screen. It said,” If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.” This cell phone was passing around from one hand to another. Everybody that read the message wept. ” If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.” Such is the mother’s love for her child!!
Mother and Child 2
Source: BoredDaddy.com

Great Heartwarming Stories of Life

All of us can use some inspiring stories of love, sacrifice, and encouraging tales of humanity. A few days ago I found the following  collection stories that will brighten your day and bring a smile to your soul. Enjoy!

Photo / Story Collection Credit: funsubstance.com
Photo / Story Collection Credit: funsubstance.com

A Mom and A Muffin

Photo Credit: Janet Hudson via Flickr
Photo Credit: Janet Hudson via Flickr

I always find it sort of funny how things in the world ”come full-circle.” The following is an example of what I mean…
If you give mom a muffin,

She’ll want a cup of coffee to go with it.

She’ll pour herself some.

Her three-year-old will spill the coffee.

She’ll wipe it up.

Wiping the floor, she will find dirty socks.

She’ll remember that she has to do laundry.

She’ll trip over boots and bump into the freezer.

Bumping into the freezer will remind her she has to plan supper.

She will get out a pound of hamburger.

She’ll look for her cookbook. (101 Things To Make With A Pound of  Hamburger.)

The cookbook is sitting under a pile of mail.

She will see the phone bill, which is due tomorrow.

She will look for her checkbook.

The checkbook is in her purse that is being dumped out by her two-year-old.

She’ll smell something funny.

She’ll change the two-year-old.

While she is changing the two-year-old, the phone will ring.

Her five-year-old will answer and hang up.

She’ll remember that she wants to phone a friend to come for coffee.

Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup of coffee.

She will pour herself some.

And chances are,

If she has a cup of coffee,

Her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it!

——–

Such is life…..

Pictures That Speak Volumes #35

Photo Credit: Gerald Herbert/Associated Press
Photo Credit: Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Starlia Dawson, widow of Army Sgt. Ezra Dawson, 31, of Las Vegas, weeps during his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009.  Dawson, a member of 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Div., from Fort Hood, Texas, was killed last month in Afghanistan in an accidental Chinook helicopter crash. The woman at the right, comforting Ms. Dawson, is unidentified.

The Smiling Face of an Angel’s Kindness

WOW!! A GREAT story that you simply HAVE TO READ!!!

Kindness Blog

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Fascinating and Unbelievable Stories of American Soldiers

Photo Credit: Karen Arnold via publicdomainpictures.net
Photo Credit: Karen Arnold via publicdomainpictures.net

Veteran’s day has come and has past but that doesn’t mean that we should ever forget what our young men and women have fought, sacrificed, and gave parts of their lives for. Today, I came across this really interesting article on huffingtonpost.com that presented us with some fascinating and strange stories of service men and women during their time in the military. The stories were collected by Ripley’s Believe It or Not. These are simply AMAZING stories!!

Some of the stranger stories that deserve to be retold:

  • In 1943, Master Sgt. John Hassebrock of Buffalo Center, Iowa, received a three-day pass to marry a WAC Corporal before he went overseas. They lost track of each other until one night in France, he made a convoy to the front lines and went to a farmhouse to spend the night. There he unexpectedly ran into his wife — on the exact day and hour of their wedding one year earlier.
  • During World War II, Gunner’s Mate Allen C. Heyn was saved three times in three minutes by his equipment. When his boat, the Juneau, was sunk by a Japanese submarine, his life was saved by his helmet, which was crushed and his skull fractured. Two minutes later, he sank with the ship, but his life jacket brought him up to the surface, where he was saved by a raft. He was the only survivor of the 12 men on that raft.
  • Private Leo Carrara of the Sixth Armored Division was truly the indestructible man. A German bomb destroyed his half-track and killed 12 men and only Pvt. Carrara escaped, although he was badly wounded. His sergeant tried to save him and was killed, his lieutenant tried to save him and was killed and his litter bearer tried to save him and was killed.
  • Lt. Commander Robert W. Goehring, aboard the Coast Guard Cutter U.S.S. Duane, was swept off his ship by a mountainous wave during a storm. The ship was turned around to rescue Goehring when suddenly another giant wave tossed him back on board to safety.
  • Joe Frank Jones of the Eighth Army Air Force fell 13,000 feet and suffered no broken bones. Returning from his 22nd mission over Germany in a Fortress, he collided in mid-air and fell 13,000 feet in the severed tail section of his plane — without serious injury and no broken bones.
  • During the Korean War, Lt. Fred J. Fees, Jr. continued to direct air strikes after he had been shot through the head.
  • Also during the Korean War: Walter J. Alliman carried an 1855 penny that brought good fortune to fighting men in 5 previous wars.
  • James Ward of La Grange, N.C., enlisted in the Army at 14, served two years, including five months in combat in Korea, and was made a sergeant. Then he was discovered and was discharged for being underage.
  • U.S. Infantryman Donald Morehouse was shot through the chest while fighting in the Korean War. Still, he walked 35 miles to safety — and only discovered later that the bullet had gone through his heart.
  • Bob Weiland, who lost both legs in 1969 in Vietnam to a land mine while trying to save a fellow soldier, “walked” 2,000 miles from California to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., in 1986 — propelling himself on his padded knuckles.
  • Pvt. William Parker, a soldier in the U.S. Army fighting in Vietnam, survived after a shot to his head was deflected by the bible he kept underneath his helmet.
  • Pfc. Billy Campbell of the 101st Airborne Division serving in Vietnam, survived being shot in the chest when the bullet deflected off a spoon he was carrying in his breast pocket.
  • During the Vietnam War, American soldiers tossed “Slinky” toys over tree branches to serve as radio antennas.
  • Wayne Reymar of Alberta, Canada, had two pieces of shrapnel removed from his chest 32 years after he was wounded during the Vietnam War.
  • While fighting in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Pvt. Channing Moss survived a body hit from an anti-vehicular rocket when the explosive head broke off just before he was impaled by the rocket shaft.
  • U.S. soldiers in Iraq use a child’s toy, Silly String, to detect tripwire-activated traps.
  • Jim Dillinger, a 45-year-old retired soldier from Mount Orab, Ohio, spent a year-long tour of duty in Iraq as a combat engineer — due to a clerical error.
  • For the help he provided to residents of Iraq, the locals have made U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Dale Horn an honorary Sheik.

Take the time EVERY day to thank a soldier or a veteran for everything that they have done for our country!

Remembering Our Veterans: Praying for Pappy

Photo Credit: George Hodan via publicdomainpictures.net
Photo Credit: George Hodan via publicdomainpictures.net

This is a story that took place in the south and involved a little boy and his mom. It shows us the sad side of war and reactions that a family endured at the loss of their loved one. Get a box of tissues ready as you read this story of a little boys love of rhis mom and dad.

Tommy’s Maw Maw and Pappy used to take Tommy to church every Sunday before his Pappy left to go to war.

Tommy had learned early in life all about God and how to pray. Every night Tommy would kneel by his bed and pray before going to sleep.
Today is the day the soldiers are to come home. Tommy and his Maw Maw dressed and went and stood at the dock waiting for his Pappy to arrive. They would wait and wait… Until the last boat left the dock but Tommy’s Pappy would not be arriving this day.

When they got home Tommy was too tired to care about eating. He kissed his grand mother goodnight and went straight to his room. He changed into his pajamas and knelt by his bed.
Lord,
It’s Tommy.
We stood at the dock all day. Every one walked away and we just stood there. Pappy must have missed the boat so we waited for the next one then the next one until all the boats were gone and the tall man in the uniform said all the soldiers had gotten off but he is wrong ’cause Lord, Pappy didn’t get off none of those boats. I hate it when maw maw cries Lord. Please send Pappy home so she will stop crying.
Thank you.

 

All week long Tommy listened as his Maw Maw cried. He heard her on the phone several times asking about why his Pappy didn’t come home like the rest of the soldiers. On the seventh night he knelt by his bed and prayed.

 

Lord ,
It’s Tommy .
It has been a long week. Maw Maw just sits and stares out the window when she ain’t cooking and cleaning or on the phone asking where Pappy is and why they didn’t send him home.. She hasn’t hardly spoke in days other than when she is on the phone.
Mrs. Nelly Baker from down the road came by to see if Pappy had come home yet but he hasn’t and Maw Maw began to cry again as Mrs. Nelly Baker talked to her. I heard her say You might have Pappy with you Lord. If you do , could you please tell him it is time to come home ’cause Maw Maw and me miss him and Maw Maw cries at night and calls for him. I’d sure ‘preciate it if you would.

 

Slowly the days passed by, then weeks. Every day was more of the same. Tommy was worried about his Pappy and his Maw Maw. It had been a little over a month now and Pappy still hadn’t come home. He walked in the living room and there his Maw Maw sat staring out the window until a knock came upon the door. A man in a uniform stood at the door. He backed up and Maw Maw walked outside. His Grand Mother screamed falling to the ground. Then the women in the neighborhood came running.
Tommy was confused. Why was his Maw Maw screaming and crying Pappy was coming home finally. He felt heavy hearted, So he went and knelt by his bed and prayed.

 

Lord,
It’s Tommy.
It’s been a month and three days since Maw Maw and I went to meet Pappy at the dock. Some man in a uniform just showed up at Maw Maw’s door and made her scream. He ‘pologized for making her scream and cry before he left. Mrs. Nelly Baker and some other women came running . I guess they heard Maw Maw screaming before she fell to the ground.
I don’t understand Lord. Why is she so upset ? The man said Pappy would be coming home tomorrow with something in a pine box. Don’t know why he needs a box. I guess he lost his suitcase. I thank Lord for sending Pappy home.

 

Tommy didn’t know his Maw Maw stood silently by the door. She listened as the little boy of ten prayed through sobs.

 

Lord,
It’s Tommy .
I un’ stand now. My Pappy came home today. I know all about the pine box now. I guess I forgot to ask for you to send him back to Maw Maw alive. I hope she will forgive me. I thought You knew what I meant when I asked you to bring my Pappy home. But you did do what I asked. I made a mess of things. Now my Maw Maw will never be happy again. Lord, the next time I ask for something make sure I ask the right way please and tell Pappy I am sorry I got him dead I didn’t mean to. It’s all my fault Maw Maw is sad. I am so sorry.

 

Tommy opened his tear stained eyes to see his Maw Maw standing in his doorway , tears streaming down her face. ” Dear child, it is not your fault.” She said through sobs and held her arms out to him. ” If it had not been for your prayers, your Pappy may never had come home at all.”

———————–

Source: friendburst.com

Veterans Day: Soldiers Reflections

The following is a collection of stories, accumulated and written by Judith Blakely a Yahoo Contributor. It gives us glimpse of the sacrifice and courage that our soldiers gave our nation. Let’s take time today to thank the Veterans that we know for fighting to give us the freedom that we all deserve.

Veterans Day

Photo Credit: kconnors via morguefile.com
Photo Credit: kconnors via morguefile.com

is here. Our hearts go out to the families of our soldiers serving at war. Our thoughts are drawn to the sacrifices of our young men and women overseas. Our memories flash to the past, of the stories of our fathers and grandfathers

Within these next stories, our grandfathers tell of a time of action, adrenaline, death, grief, triumph, pride, humor, and duty.

“Are you sure this is my son?”

Samuel Boynton began his tour in Korea by making the Inchon Landing on September 18, 1950 as part of the F Company 32nd Infantry Regiment 7th Division (better known as the Hourglass). He was immediately involved in the fighting. Boynton recalls: “After making the Inchon Landing, we made an attack on South Mountain. The North Koreans hit us resulting in twelve dead and twelve wounded. We crossed the 18th Parallel about seven times back and forth. The 7th Division was the most traveled division of the Korean War from 1950-1951.”

Upon returning from Korea in November 1951, Boynton was assigned to Escort Detachment at Brooklyn Army Base, Brooklyn, New York. He escorted remains of K.I.A. (Killed In Action), east of the Mississippi. Prior to his first assignment, Boynton attended a two week class on what his duties would become. His job was to meet the N.O.K (Next Of Kin) and the Funeral Director; fold the flag; and arrange for the firing squads with Military and American Legion Guards.

“Everyday I had to read the bulletin board at least two or three times. The names would be posted that many times a day.” On the day of Escort, Boynton would wear his Class “A” uniform with a black armband. “I would go down the stairs to the shipping dock, check the name of the soldier, rank and service number,” says Boynton. The remains would be placed in a Military Ambulance and taken to Grand Central Station to be escorted home. “That’s when the hard part began,” recalls Boynton.

“I remember the first time I escorted a soldier home. It was my hometown of Fall River, Mass.” Upon reaching the soldiers town, Boynton would first meet with the Funeral Director and deliver a copy of the orders. Then, together, they would meet with the N.O.K., “The mother and father, sometimes it was only the mother,” says Boynton. “It didn’t matter where it was: Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan or Ohio. It never got any easier. The look and those words will always be with me, “Are you sure this is my son?”

“I considered it an honor and privilege to escort these War Heroes into the loving hands of their parents.”

Years later, Sam Boynton found himself serving in a similar capacity during Vietnam. On September 18, 1965, he was sent to Vietnam and assigned to the First Air Calvary Division located in the “Tea Plantation.” Boynton recalls, “Our medical tent and grave registration was set up. When the choppers came in, we unloaded the wounded, then the K.I.A. Sometimes we had to go on a search and recover mission, looking for missing G.I.’s. With four on a team, our helicopters would fly into the jungle. Most of these missions brought more remains into the grave registration.” All remains were processed through Saigon, where identification through medical records could be made. Then they would be shipped home to their families, where someone else would answer the question, “Are you sure this is my son?”

Sam Boynton left Vietnam after four tours in March 1969 and retired from active duty a month later.

Thomas Huntsberry, Teenage Warrior

Thomas was born in Baltimore County, Maryland, on March 13, 1932. He was the youngest of thirteen children. His family held a history of military service, and he was not going to miss his opportunity to follow in his brothers’ footsteps.

“Three of my brothers served during World War II, one in the Army, one in the Marines, and one in the Navy,” says Huntsberry. He attempted to enlist at the tender age of fourteen, but was fifteen before he succeeded.

Thomas says that he had to convince his parents to go with him to a notary public to sign an affidavit stating that he was 17 years old. “In 1948, the Army was taking anybody that was breathing, so with the affidavit, I didn’t have any problem enlisting,” tells Huntsberry.

Sworn into the Army on January 1, 1948, Thomas was sent to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for basic training. He was assigned to Company H, 3rd battalion, 11th Infantry Division. “I applied for paratroop training during basic. The sergeant looked at me and said, ‘No way are yougoing to be a paratrooper. You are under-age, and I know it, and you know it!’ Then he asked, ‘Do you want to stay in the service?’ I replied, ‘I certainly do!'” Huntsberry fondly remembers.

After basic, he was sent to the Panama Canal Zone, where he remembers that Panama was undergoing unrest due to an election. He says that during guard duty, his friend was nearly shot. “It was a dark night, and the light was out in the guard shack. My friend lit a cigarette, then sat down immediately. Just as he sat down, a 30 caliber round struck the door frame where he had been standing. We were so scared that we never bothered to shoot back. It was a good thing the lights were out because they would have shot us for sure,” relays Huntsberry.

After returning home for emergency leave, Thomas was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky until he was discharged on January 1, 1950.

“I returned to Baltimore and joined the 445th Combat Engineer Battalion, U.S. Army Reserves. In October 1951, we were activated into the Army. Two other reserves and I were sent to Fort Lewis, Washington, as guards for a plane load of fourty-four prisoners who were being sent to Korea. These men had been in the stockade for desertion and for being chronically AWOL. Our orders were to deliver them to front-line units in Korea.”

In 1953, Huntsberry was preparing for an invasion of North Korea, when he learned that an armistice had been signed.

Shortly thereafter, he returned to the States with an honorable discharge. Not wishing to let go of the family feel of the Army, he became an integral part of his local Honor Guard.

Wild Boar Hunting

Towards the end of WWII, Vincent Chinchello, Jr. found himself at Fort Shafter, Territory of Hawaii, as part of the 972nd Signal Service Batallion in the U.S. Army Signal Corp. Underground, the Signal Corp was responsible for maintaining all the Army communications on the island, maintaining all the Army signal equiptment throughout the Pacfic Theatre of Operations, and served as the main link between the Pacific and the Mainland. As there were no infantry troops on the island, a provisional regiment was formed in case of an emergency which never arose. “I was one of the lucky ones,” says Chinchello.

Besides learning how to climb coconut trees (barefooted), he recalls the time the guys went wild boar hunting on the island of Maui. “I fired all eight rounds at him and the guy behind me was laughing!” The boar finally fell ten feet in front of Chinchello. When teased as to the fact that he killed the boar with the first few rounds, Chinchello responded, “I knew it and you knew it, but HE didn’t know it!” The boar was wrapped in palm leaves, buried in a pit of coals, and left to cook the rest of the day. Chinchello says, “I would have never guessed how tender and delicious it would be.”

Note: Vince J. Chinchello, Jr. served in the Regular Army from 1946-1948 and again 1956-1960

Two Tours in Vietnam

On November 16, 1966, Kenneth Wheat joined the United States Army. He went from Fort Ord, California to Fort Gordon, Georgia (for infantry training) to Fort Benning, Georgia (for Airborne training) to Vietnam, all in less than six months.

Assigned to the 9th Infantry Division in the Me Kong Delta, he was a part of the Moblie Riverine Force. In the army just over one year, Wheat was wounded by an enemy force of Viet Cong. The date was December 4, 1967. For that mission, he received The Silver Star for Galantry in Action. After being treated for his wounds at Camp Zama, Japan, Wheat returned to the same unit in Vietnam.

When his first tour in Vietnam was completed, he returned to the United States and became a Military Policeman in Fort Ritchie. After getting married in 1969, Wheat was sent to Germany for one year and then re-enlisted for Vietnam. His second tour of duty was with the 18th Engineer Brigade. Two years later, he returned to Fort Knox, Kentucky.

His assignments included Arlington, Virginia; Korea; and two tours in Hawaii. Retiring on January 1, 1987, he went to work at the Martinsburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where he works to this day.

Note: In addition to The Silver Star and a Purple Heart, Kenneth Wheat has been awarded over fifteen medals for his service to this country.

A Purple Heart

“I was shot on March 1, 1970 in the town of Tay-Ninh, Vietnam.” It was April, 1970, and as William Czyzewski lay in his hospital bed at Walter Reed Medical Center, Washington, D.C., he learned the whys and the whats of the day he was shot. “We were cleaning out the area, just before the Americans made a push into Cambodia.” The day is still vivid in his memory.

“I was supposed to go in R&R that day, but I got bumped. We were busting jungle, looking for the enemy. In tanks. We came across a bunker complex. It was the Hilton of bunker complexes. Cement tops. The Captain said, ‘ One man off each tank get down and check out the bunker complex.’ I had an M16. I looked to the right of me, there was a man. There was a man to the left of me. I looked down and there was a beaten path. I couldn’t go anywhere, so I walked down the path.”

“My basic training came back to me, I knew you don’t go down a beaten path, but I couldn’t go anywhere. I had guys to the right and left of me. I started down some steps. I looked down to the left and saw chickens in a pen and smoke from a fire. Just as I turned my eyes in front of me, I saw the muzzle flash.”

“A guy was in the bush. They left a sniper. Just as I saw the flash, I was hit high in the left leg. I went down hard. I heard my mother’s voice telling me to lay there and be still, real still. I was bleeding hard. I laid there until all the fighting was over, then I hollered out that I was hit. A guy from another tank picked me up like a sack of potatoes and threw me over his shoulder and took me out of the jungle. I heard he got a Silver Star for doing that.”

“Next thing I remember, I was laying on a stretcher. Looking up in the sky, I could see the medical helicopter. I heard him on the radio saying that he was getting shot at with 51 caliber fire. I heard the Captain say, ‘ I don’t care, you come down and get this guy or we’ll shoot at you!’ He came down and the guys put me in the chopper. The guys put my booney hat and my pillow, I always had my pillow, they put them in the chopper with me. This guy patted my shoulder and pointed, I lifted up and looked out and saw the mountain and he pushed me back down. My hat and my pillow fell out of the chopper when he did that. I lost them both. They’re somewhere in Vietnam to this day.”

After being unconscious for 48 hours, he woke up in Long-Binh, a Vietnam hospital. He was transferred to a hospital in Japan before finally ending up in Walter Reed. William Czyzewski was medically discharged in February 1971.

After six years, Czyzewski’s leg had to be amputated. He says he’s had his sense of humor through it all and that being on the Honor Guard is his way of repaying the veterans for what they have done for him.

Thank a veteran today!

Because of Love: The “Old One”

Photo Credit: Tim Green aka atoach via Flickr
Photo Credit: Tim Green aka atoach via Flickr

This is a true story which shows an undying spirit of love and sacrifice that was shared with me by a friend of mine, Amy B.

A brother and sister had made their usual hurried, obligatory pre- Christmas visit to the little farm where their elderly parents dwelt with their small herd of horses. The farm was where they had grown up and it had been named Lone Pine Farm because of the huge pine, which topped the hill behind the farmhouse. Through the years the tree had become a talisman to the old man and his wife, and a landmark in the countryside. The young siblings had fond memories of their childhood here, but the city hustle and bustle added more excitement to their lives, and called them away to a different life.

The old folks no longer showed the horses, for the years had taken their toll, and getting out to the barn on those frosty mornings was getting harder, but it gave them a reason to get up in the mornings and a reason to live. They sold a few foals each year, and the horses were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day’s end.

Angry, as they prepared to leave, the young couple confronted the old folks “Why do you not at least dispose of The Old One.” She is no longer of use to you. It’s been years since you’ve had foals from her. You should cut corners and save so you can have more for yourselves. How can this old worn out horse bring you anything but expense and work? Why do you keep her anyway?”

The old man looked down at his worn boots, holes in the toes, scuffed at the barn floor and replied, ” Yes, I could use a pair of new boots.”

His arm slid defensively about the Old One’s neck as he drew her near. With gentle caressing he rubbed her softly behind her ears. He replied quietly, “We keep her because of love. Nothing else, just love.”

Baffled and impatient, the young folks wished the old man and his wife a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole through the valley.

The old couple shook their heads in sorrow that it had not been a happy visit. A tear fell upon their cheeks. How is it that these young folks do not understand the peace of the love that filled their hearts?

So it was, that because of the unhappy leave-taking, no one noticed the smell of the insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old barn. None saw the first spark fall. None but the “Old One”.

In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry flames were licking at the loft full of hay. With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved horses. But the flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him back. He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire’s fury. His wife back from calling for help cradled him in her arms, clinging to each other, they wept at their loss.

By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins were left, and the old man and his wife, exhausted from their grief, huddled together in front of the barn. They were speechless and stunned as they rose from the cold snow covered ground. They nodded thanks to the firemen as there was nothing anyone could do now. The old man turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulder as his shaking old hands clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandana. Brokenly he whispered, “We have lost much, but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas. Let us gather strength and climb the hill to the old pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will look down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared and pray for our beloved most precious gifts that have been taken from us.

And so, he took her by the hand and slowly helped her up the snowy hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his old, withered hand.

The journey up the hill was hard for their old bodies in the steep snow. As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of the hill, they paused to rest, looking up to the top of the hill, the old couple gasped and fell to their knees in amazement at the incredible beauty before them.

Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine, and it was aglow with heavenly candles. And poised on its top- most bough, a crystal crescent moon glistened like spun glass Never had a mere mortal created a Christmas tree such as this. They were breathless as the old man held his wife tighter in his arms.

Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of wonder and incredible joy. Amazed and mystified, he took his wife by the hand and pulled her forward. There, beneath the tree, in resplendent glory, a mist hovering over and glowing in the darkness was their Christmas gift. Shadows glistening in the night light.

Bedded down around the “Old One” close to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe.

At the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and had led the horses through it. Slowly and with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping cautiously through the snow. The foals were frightened and dashed about. The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling, hungry flames, and tucked their tails under them as they licked their lips and hopped like rabbits. The mares that were in foal with a new years crop of babies, pressed uneasily against the “Old One” as she moved calmly up the hill to safety beneath the pine. And now she lay among them and gazed at the faces of the old man and his wife.

Those she loved she had not disappointed. Her body was brittle with years, tired from the climb, but the golden eyes were filled with devotion as she offered her gift —LOVE. Because of love. Only Because of love.

Tears flowed as the old couple shouted their praise and joy… And again the peace of love filled their hearts.

The Mother With One Eye

Photo Courtesy: Fran Ullola via Flickr
Photo Courtesy: Fran Ullola via Flickr

I came across this story that simply broke my heart and reminded me of an important lesson: never judge a person until you know exactly of what made them the way they are…

My mom only had one eye. I hated her… She was such an embarrassment. She cooked for students and teachers to support the family.

There was this one day during elementary school where my mom came to say hello to me. I was so embarrassed.

How could she do this to me? I ignored her, threw her a hateful look and ran out. The next day at school one of my classmates said, “EEEE, your mom only has one eye!”

I wanted to bury myself. I also wanted my mom to just disappear. I confronted her that day and said, “If you’re only gonna make me a laughing stock, why don’t you just die?”

My mom did not respond… I didn’t even stop to think for a second about what I had said, because I was full of anger. I was oblivious to her feelings.

I wanted out of that house, and have nothing to do with her. So I studied real hard, got a chance to go abroad to study.

Then, I got married. I bought a house of my own. I had kids of my own. I was happy with my life, my kids and the comforts. Then one day, my Mother came to visit me. She hadn’t seen me in years and she didn’t even meet her grandchildren.

When she stood by the door, my children laughed at her, and I yelled at her for coming over uninvited. I screamed at her, “How dare you come to my house and scare my children! GET OUT OF HERE! NOW!!!”

And to this, my mother quietly answered, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I may have gotten the wrong address.” – and she disappeared out of sight.

One day, a letter regarding a school reunion came to my house. So I lied to my wife that I was going on a business trip. After the reunion, I went to the old shack just out of curiosity.

My neighbors said that she died. I did not shed a single tear. They handed me a letter that she had wanted me to have.

“My dearest son,

I think of you all the time. I’m sorry that I came to your house and scared your children.

I was so glad when I heard you were coming for the reunion. But I may not be able to even get out of bed to see you. I’m sorry that I was a constant embarrassment to you when you were growing up.

You see……..when you were very little, you got into an accident, and lost your eye. As a mother, I couldn’t stand watching you having to grow up with one eye. So I gave you mine.

I was so proud of my son who was seeing a whole new world for me, in my place, with that eye.

With all my love to you,

Your Mother.”

The Bird Cage

 

Photo Credit: ajari via Flickr
Photo Credit: ajari via Flickr

There once was a man named George Thomas, a pastor in a small New England town. One Easter morning he came to the church carrying a rusty, bent, old birdcage, and set it by the pulpit. Several eyebrows were raised and, as if in response, Pastor Thomas began to speak.

“I was walking through town yesterday when I saw a young boy coming towards me swinging this bird cage. On the bottom of the cage were three little wild birds, shivering with cold and fright.

I stopped the lad and asked, “What you got there, son?”

“Just some old birds,” came the reply.

“What are you gonna do with them?” I asked.

“Take ’em home and have fun with ’em,” he answered. “I’m gonna tease ’em and pull out their feathers to make ’em fight. I’m gonna have a real good time.”

“But you’ll get tired of those birds sooner or later. What will you do then?”

“Oh, I got some cats,” said the little boy. “They like birds. I’ll take ’em to them.”

The pastor was silent for a moment.

“How much do you want for those birds, son?”

“Huh??!!! Why, you don’t want them birds, mister. They’re just plain old field birds. They don’t sing — they ain’t even pretty!”

“How much?” the pastor asked again.

The boy sized up the pastor as if he were crazy and said, “10 dollars?”

The pastor reached in his pocket and took out a ten dollar bill. He placed it in the boy’s hand. In a flash, the boy was gone.

The pastor picked up the cage and gently carried it to the end of the alley where there was a tree and a grassy spot. Setting the cage down, he opened the door and, by softly tapping the bars, persuaded the birds out, setting them free.

Well, that explained the empty birdcage on the pulpit. And then the pastor began to tell this story.

One day Satan and Jesus were having a conversation. Satan had just come from the Garden of Eden, and he was gloating and boasting.

“Yes, sir, I just caught the world full of people down there. Set me a trap, used bait I knew they couldn’t resist. Got ’em all!”

“What are you going to do with them?” Jesus asked.

Satan replied, “Oh, I’m gonna have fun! I’m gonna teach them how to marry and divorce each other; how to hate and abuse each other; how to drink and smoke and curse. I’m gonna teach them how to invent guns and bombs and kill each other. I’m really gonna have fun!”

“And what will you do when you get done with them?”Jesus asked.

“Oh, I’ll kill ’em,” Satan glared proudly.

“How much do you want for them?” Jesus asked.

“Oh, you don’t want those people. They ain’t no good. Why, you’ll take them and they’ll just hate you. They’ll spit on you, curse you and kill you!! You don’t want those people!!”

“How much?” He asked again.

Satan looked at Jesus and sneered, “All your tears, and all your blood.”

Jesus said, “DONE!” Then He paid the price.

The pastor picked up the cage, he opened the door and he walked from the pulpit.