This is Pastor Tim’s Newspaper Article that appeared in the Evening Leader on Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019.
My grandpa, my dad’s dad, served in World War II. He never talked about it much, but I vividly remember a couple of stories he did tell. I may not get all of these details correct because he died when I was 7, but this is what my very young mind remembers. He told about a town the American soldiers attacked. They were running out of the town because bombers were coming in to bomb everything and they had to get out of the way. There was a church in the town and he ran in the doors. Up in the front of the church, there was a gold statue of Jesus. Grandpa said he ran toward the front of the church to take the statue since it was about to be destroyed. He was reaching for the statue when he had a twinge of guilt. He told himself “I can’t steal a statue of the Lord.” He turned and ran out of the church and was eventually evacuated from the town as the explosions started.
I remember him telling this story to me and I thought that he was going to tell me he regretted leaving the statue to be destroyed. But he looked at me and said, “To this day, I believe the statue was booby trapped.” He was able to come home from the war alive and with all of his arms and legs because he left the statue alone. I wasn’t very old, but I could tell that the story sent a chill through him because he knew that it was a brush with death.
Another time, he was telling about being in a firefight and his sergeant wanted someone to throw a grenade. He had never done it before, but they talked him into it. He took the grenade, jumped down into a ravine and did exactly what they told him to do. He pulled the pin and threw the grenade as hard as he could. Before a grenade explodes, it releases a cap. The cap shot back down in the ravine and he thought he had bounced the grenade off of something and it came back down in the ravine with him. He believed he had just killed himself. His sergeant yelled at him to fall back and that is when he realized that whatever came back in the ravine with him wasn’t going to explode.
These are the two stories he told and today, I firmly believe there were many more. My grandpa was not an action hero like we see in the movies. He was a regular guy with a wife and son at home and all he wanted to do was get the war won so he could go home to my grandma and my dad. Not only did he get to come home, he also got a few years with a wide-eyed and precocious grandson who asked a lot of questions. He never told me this, but I know that he knew a lot of men who didn’t get the blessing of coming home in one piece and many more who didn’t get to come home at all.
We live in a world where people think that words are violence. To be honest, it is embarrassing. In a world where soldiers are putting themselves in harm’s way on my behalf, all our world can do is complain about people they disagree with. It makes me feel bad for those who sacrificed so much to give us this freedom, which we don’t appreciate like we should. Soldiers and veterans would never dream of considering the danger of words when they know firsthand the danger of bullets.
In all the ways we disagree, can we just agree on one thing? May God bless our armed forces and the brave women and men who have put their lives on the line so that I can stand tall and say whatever I want. We are the land of the free because of the brave. Generations of soldiers cared about the world their grandchildren would grow up in years and years before those grandchildren are even born.
Thank you, God, for turning my grandpa away from that statue. Not only did he give his grandson a free world to grow up in but, because he was blessed enough to come home, he taught me a valuable lesson about listening to that little voice of warning in the back of my mind.