Friday, November 12, 2010

Veteran's Day Thoughts

Yes, I realize I'm a day late here, but believe me, I did not get through yesterday without thinking of so many who have served our great nation so bravely. There are so many veterans I admire and appreciate that I'd like to talk about, but today I will write of one of the most precious veterans I had the privilege of knowing.

The late Reverend Wilbur Taylor was my childhood preacher at a little country church in a grove of cedar trees. I wish I had a picture of him here in North Dakota, but they're all "back home" in Maryland. This is the best I could do...

Historic picture of Cedar Grove United Methodist Church, Monkton, MD

Reverend Taylor also happened to be the father of my Dad's best friend, Ronnie. Rev. Taylor was one of the gentlest souls I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Always witty and I enjoyed my many visits with he and his lovely, elegant, ever-smiling, wife, Rae, in their town home in Baltimore City. For all I knew he was a dental technician, then became a preacher later in life. In 2000, I travelled to France to study European agriculture for the summer. I returned home with a thick album of pictures to share. So on my next visit to the Taylor's after my trip, we poured over my album together.

I had no idea he was ever in the service, until he turned the page and stopped abruptly and stared at a picture of a fountain in the center of the city of Angers, France.

He began to quietly tell of his days serving under General Patton in WWII, and how he had been in Angers during the liberation. He told of a few memories of how those that had been caught spying for the Germans were being punished and their heads being shaved in that very fountain. Then he said something I will never forget. "Sarah, the rest you don't ever want to know about".

I knew what he meant. I'm sure he had seen some indescribably horrible things during the War and he wanted to protect my young mind from those images. It was visibly difficult for him to speak about his experiences, but I am so very grateful he did.
What was most shocking to me is that a man who had committed such acts of bravery was so very humble about the sacrifices he had made to protect MY freedom. Yes, MY freedom, decades before I was even born. Through history, every veteran of every war and those that serve during times of peace as well have worked to protect OUR freedom. The very freedom we take for granted so often.

There are so many veterans walking amongst us everyday, so many lying in the lines of quiet graves I have surveyed in Gettysburg, Normandy, Arlington, and so many who are remembered, but who's remains were never found.

Yesterday wasn't just a day my daughter had off of school, but truly a day of remembrance. A day to honor those who deserve so much more from us than just one day for what they have done and all they and their families have given.

God bless each and every one of our precious veterans, especially Reverend Taylor.

I will never miss an opportunity to teach my children about all that you have all done for us. I will never forget you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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