Remember, Not All the Heroes Come Home

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Towards the end of the Viet Nam war, I was in high school and worked part-time in the Navy Exchange store at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C. You might not think of a hospital as a place full of heroes, but let me tell you, NNMC was.

Throughout the time I worked during the war, the thump-thump-thump of rotary blades atop approaching military hospital transports was a sound I heard on a regular basis. Incoming.

By the time the helicopter landed on the heli-pad, several of us had run outside to stand on the pad’s perimeter; our silent presence welcoming the wounded to the hospital.

We watched doctors and nurses hustle gurneys to the helicopter, load the wounded, and rush them inside.

I seriously doubt those wounded warriors knew anyone cared enough to be present when they arrived, praying for them, thanking them, appreciating their sacrifice.

To those of us keeping vigil, it didn’t matter if the soldiers knew we were there, or not. For me what mattered was the fact I made the effort to show my appreciation for their sacrifice.

Among other things available to military personnel and their dependents, of which I was one thanks to my father’s military service, the Medical Center housed a theater where for twenty-five cents you could watch some really awful movies. What a deal. Definitely not first-run, that’s for sure. Nevertheless, that didn’t keep Sissy, my girlfriends, and me from showing up.

To get to the theater we walked the hospital corridors. I’m sure you’ve walked through a hospital, so you get the idea, but these corridors were filled with wounded personnel on stretchers, in wheelchairs, or walking the halls; bandaged from one part of their body to the next, making their way to the theater.

These men paid a heavy price for the freedom I enjoyed.

That included the freedom to walk down the same corridors they walked to watch really awful movies for twenty-five cents.

It also included the freedom to walk back down those same corridors and out that hospital at the end of the movie while they made their way back to hospital rooms that became their new normal.

In this country we have days set aside to remember the sacrifices our military and their families made so we can enjoy our hamburgers, watermelon, and pool parties.

Sometimes we might pause and remember those service personnel, or maybe even say, “thank you” on those set-aside holidays. But what if we made it a habit to remember, honor, pray for, and thank our military every day, realizing not all the heroes come home?

On this July 4th, Independence Day here in the States, will you join me in honoring those who give their all, so the rest of us don’t have to?

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When your people go out to fight their enemies along some road on which you send them, your people will pray to you, facing this city which you have chosen and the Temple I have built for you. Then hear in heaven their prayers, and do what is right. 2 Chronicles 6:34-35 (NCV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Tell a Veteran Thanks

My dad (the one w/ the puppy)
proudly served in the Navy during
WWII

Happy Veteran’s Day to all those who are serving, and who have served, in our military. Thank you very much for your sacrifices, and the sacrifices of your families.

I’ve mentioned before that my father served in the US Navy, and was on board a ship at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when it was bombed on December 7, 1941. My dad didn’t talk much about his experiences in the war. Although I wish he had, I understand why he didn’t.

I asked my niece’s son, who served in Afghanistan, if he ever talked about his war experiences. No. Only with those who’d been there. I get it. How can anyone who hasn’t been there truly understand what it was like for you to go through what you went through?

There were a few things my dad did tell me. He told me how difficult it was to watch the buddy he fought next to get killed, while Dad was physically, unscathed. He told me how he walked into a restaurant, and someone he knew was shocked. They’d heard Dad’s ship was destroyed. It was, but Dad had been tendered to another ship, to take over for their deceased gunner, before Dad’s ship was hit. My father told me how much it hurt to come back to the States, the country he’d proudly fought and sacrificed for, to see a sign in front of a business that said, Sailors and dogs keep off the grass.

He put his life on the line for this?Keep off the grassRight now, I’m researching the Tuskegee Airmen, and their contributions to winning the Double Victory. These men and women, like Dr. Bickham and Mr. Alston, Sr. who have helped me with my research, made sacrifices to defeat Hitler overseas, and Jim Crow at home. They returned to the States to face much worse than signs telling them to keep off the grass. (Please join me in praying for Mr. Alston’s family, at his passing this week.)

And here’s where Jesus comes in. Jesus left his throne in glory to come to this earth as a man, to fight for us. To win the victory over sin for us. He endured all things we as humans endure, to pay the price for our freedom from Satan’s claws of death. Jesus knew the joys. The pains. The prejudices. The humiliation. The betrayal. The love. The loss.

pathwayWhile I can sympathize and get upset about the unfair treatment others face, unless I’ve walked a mile in their moccasins, I cannot truly comprehend the raw emotions and pain events in their lives cause. But Jesus can. He won the victory. He is the conqueror. His death and resurrection bought our freedom. Praise God.

It’s obvious, of course, that he (Jesus) didn’t go to all this trouble for angels. It was for people like us, children of Abraham. That’s why he had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when he came before God as high priest to get rid of the people’s sins, he would have already experienced it all himself—all the pain, all the testing—and would be able to help where help was needed. Hebrew 2:16-18 (MSG)

 

scarvesKnow a veteran? Tell them thanks. Even better, join Sissy and me, as we create knitted Knit Your Bit Scarvesand crocheted scarves to donate to VA Centers across the US. Here is a link for info on the National WWII Museum’s Knit Your Bit campaign.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Veteran’s Day

November 11 is Veteran’s Day.

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France.

Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry near a church at Stenay, Meuse in France, wait for the end of hostilities. This photo was taken at 10:58 a.m., on November 11, 1918, two minutes before the armistice ending World War I went into effect.
Photo courtesy US Dept. Veteran’s Affairs

An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II

My dad (the one w/ the puppy)
proudly served in the Navy during
WWII

had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

To all the many men and women who are serving, and who have served, in our

My brother during basic training, Viet Nam era.

armed forces throughout the history of the United States of America, thank you so very much.  Your dedication, sacrifice, and honor, and that of your families, are greatly appreciated.

I, indeed, salute you.

Several years back, Pilot and I heard Cherryholmes sing this powerful song in concert. This is My Son.

I wish you well,

Sandy

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