Sunday, May 29, 2011
This One is for You, Dad. Memorial Day...
Every Memorial Day, my father went to the Herrin City Park where the Doughboy statue was and stood with his hand over his heart as taps were played and guns fired in the air in memorial of those who gave their lives for their country.
I can still see him standing there. I can still see the soldier statue. I see the white haired men in white shirts, black pants, hats indicating Veterans, shouldering fierce looking guns.
The CRACK! of the gun shots in the air always shocked me as a child even though I knew it would happen.
Dad rarely talked about his experiences in WWII. He saw horrific events. I do know that he could not watch any comedies on television or at the movies about war. He hated war. I remember one night watching an old sitcom called, "Hogan's Heroes." It was a very popular comedy show in the 70's about prisoners of war always trying to escape. One German guard kept saying, "I see nothing! I see nothing!" whenever he stumbled on yet another plan of escape or espionage.
Dad disliked that show greatly. He said POWs experienced no humor.
One day Dad finally wrote about his experience. He had to fly into the concentration camps at the end of the war for commanding officers who were documenting the Nuremberg trials. Sometimes he came just as people were being freed.
I came close to understanding his silence about the War after reading one of his accounts. His reason for sharing his stories was because he was afraid. He was afraid people would forget. People would forget how cruel man could be, was.
I told him I wouldn't forget. As a teacher, I shared his stories with my students. Every year 120 students heard his story as I prepared them for the study of Ellie Wiesel's NIGHT. Over 1000 students heard his story.
It wasn't just his story though. It was man's story. The story of loss, hatred, cruelty, suffering, and sacrifice.
Those scenes haunted my father. I know survivors of war, whether WWII, Korean, Vietnam, Iraq, Afgahnistan, and yes, the World Trade Towers... all have witnessed the cruelty of man and must be haunted by the impact of evil.
So this weekend many gather around the statue of the UNKNOWN SOLDIER or replicas around the country and see the flag and hear the CRACK! of guns.
-And I think of healing that comes from another greater sacrifice. I think of Rome where another statue stood. -One to the UNKNOWN GOD. I am reminded how the disciple Paul shared with the Greeks and Romans who that UNKNOWN GOD was and how healing comes from his son, Jesus.
My Dad is no longer with me. He is not in the Herrin cemetary though either. He is with the Prince of Peace where no evil has power. He is healed from painful sights and memories. He is filled with God's love and working for a much better kingdom. May God's peace that can only come from Jesus fill each survivor's heart today as well as our soldiers' families.
For His Glory....