Thursday, August 1, 2013

Unfolding a Link to the Past

     A group of us from our small group (Bible study) had the opportunity to visit a veterans' nursing home today with our children.  Most of the kids were under the age of 5 except my three who are quite a bit older.  As it was a call on one of our friend's hearts to go out of her comfort zone, she set up our meeting with the Activities Director.  The younger children made cards last week that we gave to the residents as we made our way through the building.  The conversations we had were never very long or very deep, but we could see that most of the residents enjoyed receiving the cards and having visitors.

     Outside of each of their rooms was a shadow box with photos and paraphernalia from their time in the service.  It was interesting to look at each of them to see what these men and women looked like when they served and to see where they might have served, though they didn't all have that information contained in them.  The Activities Director knew what war they served in, even if she didn't know their location.  This was a place full of fascinating and, at times, terrifying history.

     Having taught about World War I and II in our homeschool co-op, I was intrigued by the firsthand accounts we could possibly hear.  We met an actual Pearl Harbor survivor who had served in the Navy.  It is an awesome feeling, for me anyhow, to be in the presence of one who served in such a capacity, one who looked right at the devastation, one who may have tried to rescue friends who went down with their ships, one who may have needed to be rescued.  I obviously wasn't there, but our veterans are our link to the past.  From their accounts, we can feel as if we are there.  We can feel the anguish and the horror.  We can sense the sadness and the triumph when the war was finally over.

     We met another man who had also served during World War II.  He spent time in France, losing his leg and being shot in the chest during battle.  He shared that he almost bled to death.  His memory was remarkable, knowing the exact dates when all this had occurred.  We didn't spend a long time with him, but we are going back.  Hopefully, we'll get to hear more, if he is willing to share.

     The last resident we met had been a prisoner of war for 10 months in Germany, only being released because the war had ended.  He had seen action in France and Germany.  He had been to England and Casablanca.  He was more than happy to talk to us about his experiences.  I hope he is willing to talk to us when we go back.  The Activities Director said they had a World War I survivor living there.  We didn't get to meet him today.  I do hope we get the opportunity and privilege.

     The little kids in our group won't understand about the wars, but we adults can surely benefit.  We can hear their stories and pass them down to our children.  My children, who are older, will be able to pass the stories down to their children.  The stories will eventually fade and be forgotten, but right now we have the opportunity to learn and thank those who fought and survived and remember those who fought but did not survive.  We owe them all a debt of gratitude for what they have done.

     Thank you, Stephanie, for heeding your call and taking us along with you.  I pray our lives will be forever changed by this experience and those to come.