Lifeline

I think of prayer as a spiritual lifeline back to where I most want to be.

Marianne Williamson

(US Sailor Petty Officer First Class Joe George / Photo: George-Taylor family / Speical for The Republic)

(****for some bizarre reason, the post I wrote yesterday and attempted to post
via my phone this morning did not post in its entirety.
I’ve had to delete it and go back in to find what I had last written and saved.
I’ve cut, paste and fixed the original post intended…which you will see here…)

Last night with the television on, while the news played on in the background
as some sort of mindless white noise,
I was perched on the couch with my trusty little laptop in my lap.
I was struggling with my ponderings.

I didn’t know what to write.

What was to be the next day’s post??

Time, or the lack thereof, has been such an issue so being short, sweet and concise
seemed essential.

Suddenly, a familiar voice caught my attention, pulling me back to the moment.
The voice was that of Gary Sinise and it was coming from a trailer for a new story coming
to PBS.

As most folks know, Gary Sinise is most remembered for his iconic role as Lt Dan
in the movie Forrest Gump.

I was not a fan of the movie.

I found it just way too silly and bordering on stupid.

Sure there was that hoped-for lesson at the end of unconditional love, but I just
wasn’t won over by the attempt.

However, my appreciation for Gary Sinise runs deep and comes from his tireless work for
and with veterans along with and for their families.
He actually oversees a foundation that focuses on our veterans, first responders
and their families…

At the Gary Sinise Foundation, we serve our nation by honoring our defenders,
veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.
We do this by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate,
inspire, strengthen, and build communities.
Freedom and security are precious gifts that we, as Americans, should never take
for granted.
We must do all we can to extend our hand in times of need to those who willingly
sacrifice each day to provide that freedom and security.
While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s defenders,
we can always do a little more.
-gary sinise

So now it seems that there is a new documentary coming to PBS about Pearl Harbor.

The trailer is narrated by Gary Sinise.

The story is about the heroism of an unsung naval roughneck and boxer,
Naval Petty Officer First Class Joe George.

With only seconds to make a life-altering decision, to defy or not to defy the orders given
by his commanding officer, a 26-year-old Petty Officer George unwittingly turned hero.

It was within those few seconds of wavering that meant the saving of 6 men who
were caught on the burning USS Arizona, men who without the quick thinking and action
of Joe George, would have all burned alive–
right in front of the eyes of this young sailor.

However, despite his selfless act, Petty Officer George was never recognized for
his action of heroism nor was he to ever talk about what happened that
fateful December 7th day…
not until very late in his life did he verbally recall a very visceral nightmare.

Fast forward to our current day.

Joe George passed away in 1996, at the age of 81, but that did not stop efforts to
bring a long overdue recognition to a man who was never acknowledged as the one man
who made the difference between life and death for the lives of the last living
6 men on the USS Arizona on that horrific Sunday, December 7, 1941.

PBS will be airing his story.

President Donald Trump posthumously awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor to George’s
daughter in 2017.
The ceremony took place on the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii–it was the first
time a medal ceremony had ever taken place at the Memorial.

But there would never have been a ceremony or a PBS story had not two of the
surviving 6 men, who now in their mid to upper 90’s, made it their mission to
make certain that Petty Officer George was recognized for saving their lives
as well as for his actions of bravery and heroism.

In a previous article written in an Arizona newspaper, the story ran that,
“Donald Stratton, 94, and Lauren Bruner, 96, will go to Washington, D.C.,
next month and hope to meet with lawmakers,
Navy officials and representatives from the White House.

Their goal is to secure a posthumous award for the sailor, Joe George.

“He should have the Navy Cross,” Stratton told The Arizona Republic last year.
“He saved six people’s lives. Joe saved six lives and he didn’t get crap.”

https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-best-reads/2017/06/05/honors-forgotten-hero-uss-arizona-survivors-take-their-case-washington/364303001/

Their decades-long efforts were finally acknowledged when Petty Officer Joe George
was officially honored by the Navy and the US Government on December 7, 2017…
76 years after the very day he risked everything for his fellow sailors.

The story is full of the providence of God’s hand.

George had been confined to his to repair ship which was tethered to the
USS Arizona there at the Pearl Harbor docks…

Had George not gotten into trouble the day prior for brawling in town,
he would not have been on the repair ship, confined to quarters.

He would not have seen those last 6 men stranded on the deck of a ship engulfed
in flames.

With the final bomb dropped, engulfing the Arizona in a massive fireball,
had George not defied the orders given to cut the tether, he would
have left those 6 men to perish in the flames joining the other 1177 men
who perished on that ship that life-changing day in 1941.

Instead, he managed to throw another rope 70 feet to the stranded men, who quickly
tied it off and began the hand over hand climb from the burning and sinking
death trap to the safety of the repair ship.

Once the men were safely aboard, the tether was cut allowing the repair ship
to slip away unharmed from the dying Arizona.

Stratton and Bruner both acknowledge that George saved much more than 6 men.
He saved the lives of the children and the grandchildren and the
great-grandchildren that would grow from those 6 men.

Generations of families now exist because of the bravery of one man.

Stories of men like Petty Officer Joe George are so important.

They remind us of what was.
They remind us of what we can be.
They remind us how fortunate we are and just how much we owe to one another,
our fellow human beings.

They remind us, a currently hate-filled and divided people,
that we are better together then we are separate.

To forget such stories, allowing them to slip away into the fog of the past
is not an option.

We are who we are because of who they were.

I somehow doubt that many of our current day, angst-ridden, hate-filled,
angry progressive liberal culture understands the gravity of the actions of men
like Petty Officer Joe George nor of the lasting impact such actions have had
on our own lives today.

If we opt to ignore and forget our past, we are bound to repeat our mistakes.

https://www.foxnews.com/shows/the-story

http://www.wwiifoundation.org/films/sinise/

https://www.aptonline.org/offer/LIFELINE-PEARL-HARBOR-S-UNKNOWN-HERO

https://www.nps.gov/valr/learn/historyculture/joe-george.htm

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:12-13

who’s the real hero

Ok, when I read the following story I realized that it said it all–
there was nothing I could add or even say…because this story does indeed say it all…
perfectly…
Please enjoy…..

The Quiet Hero Of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’
(Hint: It’s NOT Jimmy Stewart)
Entertainment Now
FOX News — Paul Batura


(Christmas classic celebrates its 70th anniversary)

As we approach the 71st anniversary of Frank Capra’s perennial Christmas classic
“It’s A Wonderful Life,” I think it’s time to reexamine the film’s heroes.
The result might surprise you.

As a child, I assumed the hero was Jimmy Stewart’s wholesome hometown character,
George Bailey. The American Film Institute agreed, listing George as the ninth
greatest screen hero of all time. After all, the whole point of the movie is to
show us what life in Bedford Falls would be like without George.

We quickly discover it would be pretty grim – a dark and foreboding shantytown
owned by an evil millionaire named Henry F. Potter,
a miserly character played perfectly by Lionel Barrymore.
The film revolves around George,
the congenial and affable everyman who bravely stands up to Mr. Potter’s greed.
The hero had to be George, or so I thought.

In my teens and twenties, when my faith became my own and I began studying
more closely the mysterious and spiritual side of life,
I thought the hero had to be Henry Travers’ character,
Clarence Odbody, Angel Second Class.

It’s Clarence who saves George – so that George can continue to help save
everybody else. Though theologically questionable,
the thought of a guardian angel is comforting.
Plus, it’s Christmas and angels play a significant part in the Yuletide story.
For years, Clarence had my vote.

But now that I’m in my forties, and as a husband and father,
I’ve come to realize that the biggest hero of the movie isn’t George or Clarence.

The biggest hero is actually a heroine, Mary Hatch Bailey,
played by Donna Reed.
She’s George’s poised and unflappable wife and the mother of their four children,
Janie, Pete, Tommy and Zuzu.

Here’s why:

Mary is patient: George and Mary are about to head off on their honeymoon
just as there’s a run on the Bailey Building and Loan.
George abruptly cancels the romantic trip to New York City and Bermuda,
instead spending their savings to keep the business solvent.
His bride doesn’t complain. She pledged to be his wife for “richer or poorer” –
and Mary quickly keeps her sacred vow.

Mary is long-suffering:
The newlywed couple moves into a dilapidated and drafty old house.
Does Mary want more?
She never lets on but instead gets to work making the rickety house a home.
Later, when George foregoes a big payout by declining an offer to sell the
business to Mr. Potter, Mary doesn’t criticize her husband’s idealism.
Instead, Mary throws herself into the care and nurturing of the children.
She’s content.

Mary is responsible:
With World War II raging and her husband deferred from military service due
to his poor hearing, Mary eagerly volunteers to do her part for the country.
Despite being a busy mother of four, we see Mary running a local branch of the USO.

Mary is a woman of prayer:
When George, stressed over the missing $8,000 now owed to Mr. Potter,
rages red-hot and hurls insults in every direction on Christmas Eve,
it’s Mary who keeps her cool.
After George storms out of the house,
Mary urges the children to pray for their father.
She prays, too, and she also gets to work.

Mary is a woman of quiet action:
It would be easy to sulk and sour in the midst of the family’s traumatic day,
but after urging the children to pray,
Mary immediately picks up the phone and rallies the help of their family and friends.
When George returns with a new and improved outlook,
Mary doesn’t lace into him or even question where he’s been.
“You have no idea what happened to me!” George cries.
To which a smiling Mary, about to welcome in an adoring and jubilant crowd of friends, responds,
“You have no idea what’s happened.”

At a time in history when popular culture is being reminded again about
the importance of respecting women,
the many positive attributes of Donna Reed’s seven-decades-old character affirm
anew what William Ross Wallace first wrote in 1865:
“The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”

Heroism manifests itself in many forms in the overlooked or understated people
of this world, most especially spouses who sit outside the spotlight and mothers
who sacrifice on a daily basis for their children.

Christmas is a wonderful time to remember that greatness often comes quietly,
as it did in the form of a helpless baby to another quiet woman named Mary.

I need a hero

“Great heroes need great sorrows and burdens,
or half their greatness goes unnoticed.
It is all part of the fairy tale.”

Peter S. Beagle

“Even death is going to die!”
― Sally Lloyd-Jones

animalsweaters18_3
(a sweater wearing little goat jumps from a hay bale as seen on the Weather Channel from Farm Sanctuary image 2014)

Look up, in the sky…
It’s a bird…
It’s a plane…
No….
it’s Super…. goat??!!

Well… maybe that’s not exactly the hero you were hoping for….
albeit…it’s a pretty darn cute one…

For who among us hasn’t, at some time or other, longed for a cape crusader who would
come flying into our lives… ready to save the day…
Or perhaps even more aptly…
save us from ourselves…

“I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight”

Song lyrics by Bonnie Tyler most recently heard and seen used in the KIA car commercial
showcasing Melissa McCarthy being called in to come save the whales, then the rhinos, etc
…with all calls being met with dire consequences for the heroine McCarthy…

Yet who among us hasn’t at some point in life looked up hoping to see someone, anyone,
swooping in who would have all the answers…
all the solutions…
the one person who possessed that magic bullet…that remedy, that saving hope…

Someone who would come to the rescue and who could stop all the craziness…
stopping all the bad guys,
stopping all the hurting,
stopping all the madness….

And it just so happens that we may have to look no further than to a small mountain bald
outside of the gates of old Jerusalem…

looking no further to….
Gagultâ… in Aramaic
Golgotha… in Greek Γολγοθᾶς
Calvariæ Locus… in Latin
Calvary… in English…

Otherwise known as simply ‘the place of the skull’…

For it was here on this bare outcropping of desolate land,
known to locals as the cap of the skull,
that just a little over 2000 years ago, a real hero,
nay the only true hero who has ever lived,
was put to death.

But, as most would imagine,
our hero’s story was not merely finished with his being put to death.
Absolutely far from the end….
Because the story was truly only beginning…

For it was in the death of this hero that our own endings, our own loss of life,
our own deaths….
were defeated…

Meaning, death would be no more….

No longer would death be a forever closed ending…
of which we have all so imagined things to be…
A permanent ending of a black hole sucking in all life…into the aphotic void of total
impenetrable light or hope…

But rather…in this death of our hero…
was to be found…
a beginning….
our beginning…
and a beginning not just for our hero, but for all who so choose….

And so it is to the cross where we are look in order to find our hero…

crusifixion-669x470

“If man had his way, the plan of redemption would be an endless and bloody conflict.
In reality, salvation was bought not by Jesus’ fist, but by His nail-pierced hands;
not by muscle but by love; not by vengeance but by forgiveness;
not by force but by sacrifice.
Jesus Christ our Lord surrendered in order that He might win;
He destroyed His enemies by dying for them and conquered death by
allowing death to conquer Him.”

― A.W. Tozer

Can’t shake a tiger

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.
Joseph Campbell

unknown
(Clemson Tiger Paw)

As you may remember I am a faithful member of the Bulldog Nation.
Win or lose, I am a bulldog.

That’s what we call a fan…
a person who is there in both the good winning times…
as well as the bad losing times…
And might I add that this Bulldog season is proving to be a challenging one,
but remain a fan I do, none the less.

It’s what we do as fans, we cry for joy and we cry in defeat..
We celebrate and cry…
or we cry while dusting ourselves off as we roll up our sleeves…
all in order to ready ourselves as we do it all over again, and again and again…

Maybe the American populace needs to be reminded of the life of a fan.
But I digress…

Today’s story is about a fan,
a fan who became a hero.

A hero by definition is:
he·ro
ˈhirō/
noun
1.a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements,
or noble qualities.

And before all the women out there cry foul, the woman version would be heroine…
but today we looking at a hero…so hold thy wrath…

I am hard pressed these recent days, as I survey this great land of ours,
casting my sight while I seek a hero or heroine…

Heroes are not our political leaders…a far far cry.
Nor are they our sports stars…
They are not our entertainers nor are they our news personnel.

They are the quiet ones among us.

They don’t march, rally or protest.
They don’t scream or yell at others.
They don’t name call or throw insults.
or even stones…

They square their shoulders and tuck their heads as they trudge forward doing what is expected.

They don’t question,
they don’t argue,
they don’t whine,
they don’t demand do overs

They don’t harbor bitterness,
they don’t disregard their fellow man or woman
and they don’t seek accolades, applause or recognition…

Clemson University’s William Funchess, age 89, is an example of both a fan and a hero…

In 1944, while America was embroiled in the throws of WWII, Funchess entered Clemson
at the tender age of 16.
He graduated four years later from his beloved Clemson, which at the time was a male military college.
He was commissioned as an officer, 1st Lt. in the United States Army.

Funchess was sent to Korea to join American forces who now found themselves fighting yet another war.
After a harrowing clash between Chinese forces, Funchess, who had been shot through the foot
and having lost his entire unit to either battle or capture, was taken prisoner of war…

His unit had been told to hold their position, so they hunkered down to defend the area which in turn allowed 700 fellow soldiers to retreat.
Yet his unit paid the ultimate price for standing their ground.

Funchess shot by a machine gun, was captured, beaten, starved, tortured, humiliated
and held for an endless 34 months by Chinese forces…two months shy of three long hellish years.
Almost 3 years cut from life that Lt Funchess would never be able to get back…
No re-dos,
no re-votes,
no-replays…
Funchess had a young wife back home who did not know whether he was dead or alive…
but it was to this young woman whom Funchess was determined to return.

During his time as a prisoner, Funchess was befriended by a fellow prisoner, Father Emil Kapaun…
an Army chaplain from Kansas.

Fr Kapaun’s tale of complete self sacrifice and bravery is a story unto itself
as the Vatican is currently working to bestow Fr Kapaun with the title of saint.

After 3 months of having to eat snow in order to survive, it was Fr. Kapaun who had
given Funchess his first actual drink of water. And later is was Funchess who would care for
Fr Kapaun and all his physical needs during the devastating illness that would
eventually lead the Chinese to remove Kapaun from the prison,
taking him away to die totally alone.

http://fatherkapaun.org/father-kapaun

The story of Lt. Funchess as a solider is sobering.
Yet upon his release, it was his love for Clemson that eventually led him back
to his beloved school where he earned a second degree while
spending the next 30 years working for Clemson.

In 1997 Funchess finally decided to put his war experience to paper, writing about his
time as a prisoner. When he finally put down his pen after filling yellow legal pad after pad,
it was only then that the years of never-ending nightmares…blessedly stopped.

A book was published in 2002 “Korea POW: A Thousand Days of Torment

Both these men remind us what it is to be a hero…
These men, who despite the evils of war and what such can do to the human soul…
demonstrated the ultimate in endurance, selflessness and sacrifice…
as their lives continue to be reflections of everlasting hope…

Please click on the link to read Lt Funchess remarkable story:

The Unbreakable Tiger

Farewell to Sir Nicholas Winton

***Sir Nicholas Winton, the young British stockbroker, who in 1938 changed forever the course of his life as well as the course of the lives of 669 children, passed away peacefully yesterday at Wexham Hospital, Slough.

He was 106 years old.

Sir Winton has been the featured topic of several of my posts after I was privileged having caught Bob Simon’s 60 Minutes interview with Sir Winton which aired last April.
(sadly we have since lost Bob Simon in a tragic car accident earlier this year)
I thought it a fitting tribute that I should repost my original posting about this wonderful unassuming hero and most humble human being. . .the world was all the better for Nicholas Winton

(see yesterday’s BBC story about his death– http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-33350880 )

When does 669 equal 15,000?

“The soul is healed by being with children.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“I work on the motto that if something’s not impossible, there must be a way of doing it.”
Nicholas Winton

young_nicholas_winton_with_rescued_child
(Nicholas Winton in 1938 with a young Jewish boy in Prague)

The year is 1938.
You’re 28 years old, a young British stock broker—successful and living the good life.
You’ve been keeping up with the current events throughout Europe, with a particularly keen interest in Czechoslovakia.
Hitler is on the march.
The Czechs, particularly the Jews, are trying to get out while they still can.
The war drums are beginning to echo from across the English Channel.
You’ve got two weeks vacation saved up.
Seems like a perfect time for a trip to Prague. . .

Fast forward to Sunday evening, April 27, 2014—time for 60 Minutes.
Correspondent Bob Simon hosts the story “Saving The Children”
He introduces us to 104 year old Nicholas Winton.

winton_prazsky_hrad
(Sir Nicholas Winton today)

I was just in the process of finishing up the dishes when the story started. Intrigued with the story’s intro, I immediately stopped what I was doing in order to give the story my full attention.

By the time the 60 Minute story ends, tears are streaming down my cheeks.
A tale of heroic action by one who simply thought he had to make a difference.
He had no corporate financial backing.
He had no Governmental backing.
He was not a member of the military.
He was merely a young man with a big heart.
A young man who simply knew that there were people, in particular families with young children, who were now in trouble. Never mind that these people were on the continent proper, hundreds of miles from his own home.
He had no clue as to what he would find.
He had no idea as to how to he could “fix” the current “bleeding”
He simply knew in his heart that he had to go and he had to try to help.
Hitler and his dreaded Nazis were coming, as was now Nicholas Winton.
The two were on a collision course with destiny.
One to save lives, the other to take lives.

I’m providing a link for anyone who would like to view the original story here:
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/saving-the-children-during-world-war-11-60-minutes/

Mr. Winton, who is actually Sir Winton, is a most unassuming 104 year old British gentleman. He has a gentle, soft spoken demeanor, with an ever so sly smile. For nearly 50 years, Sir Winton never actually spoke of the life changing events which took place during a trip to Prague in 1938. Had his wife not found an old faded yellow and long forgotten scrape book in their attic, filled with the grainy black and white photographs of hundreds of young children, the world may never have known of the difference one young Englishman had made so very long ago.

When asked by Bob Simon as to why he never told any one of his most heroic feat which spanned 1938-1939, Sir Winton replied that it wasn’t that he kept it secret, he just didn’t find it important to go on about it.
That was then.
This is now.
And he currently has other irons in the fire.

At 104 Sir Winton is currently involved in working with the elderly mentally handicapped of London as well as for building homes for senior citizens. Interesting that a man of 104 feels a deep need to take care of those who are a bit younger than himself when it seems as if he would be the one in need of care.

I will briefly delve into only the general specifics of Sir Winton’s heroic act of 1938, as you may certainly visit the 60 Minute link or peruse the Web for a more in-depth story of this remarkable man— I will however whet your appetite with a few of the highlights.

As the Nazis rolled into then Czechoslovakia, wanting to literally take the Sudetenland, which they felt was rightfully their own, just as they had rolled into Austria and soon Poland and Hungary, the citizens of Czechoslovakia began to panic, especially the Jews. Nicholas Winton was reading about these disturbing unfolding events in the daily news with keen interest. He decided to use his time saved for holiday for a trip to Prague to see what, if anything, he could do to help.

The short end of story is that Sir Winton decided to get out as many children as possible from the impending falling death ridden curtain which was quickly descending not only over Czechoslovakia but over most of Europe. He had no particular resources except for his own ingenuity and creativity laced with a bit of deception. He orchestrated the deportation of eventually 669 children. He had even written to President Franklin Roosevelt asking if the United States would help by taking in some of the children.

When explaining all of this to Bob Simon, Sir Winton rather nonchalantly recalls that the United States refused to be of assistance and what a pity that was as he suspects they may have been able to save many more children.

The truly sad part of the story was the interview of Mr. Hugo Meisl. Mr Meisl was 10 years old in 1939. He vividly recalls the day Adolph Hitler rode through the streets of Prague. He along with the other children of Prague were lined up along the street route and were all told that as soon as the Führer rode past, they were to give the obligatory raised arm salute of Heil Hitler.

He was one of the 669 children that was saved during Nicholas Winton’s deportation scheme. Bob Simon asks if he remembers his parents taking him to the train station to send him to what was to be a journey to the safety of a new life in England. Mr Meisl recalls as if it was yesterday his parents taking him to the station that fateful day. They were not emotional but had told him that he was to go to England on a 2 month holiday, at which time they would then come join him.

Bob Simon presses Mr. Meisl asking if he had believed his parents. “Of course” Mr Meisl answers “We had every reason to believe our parents.”
As the interview continues, we all painfully realize that Mr. Meisl never saw his parents again. Bob Simon interjects “After the war you went back to Czechoslovakia… Was there one instant where you accepted the fact that your parents were dead?”

At this point, Mr. Meisl becomes quite emotional (as do I) explaining that for the next three years following the War, as the trains returned from Siberia, Russia, returning back to Czechoslovakia those who had fled or who had been taken prisoner, he searched for his parents.

I was personally so taken by the raw emotions of this man, who is now nearing 90, as he recalls the day he said good-bye to his parents and then of the 3 year search and wait for a return and reunion that never took place.

As a parent myself, I am hard pressed to imagine having to send my young child away to what I hoped was safety, knowing I most likely would never have seen him again. The total lack of control over my very life and that of my child’s life is something I simply cannot wrap my brain around. I find it a tragedy that so many free Americans and Europeans today have no true cognizant or emotional concept of the price paid by so many of our parents and grandparents during a time the majority of us have no understanding of—

We think that we would not tolerate such action taken against us or our family, and yet, the citizens of much of Europe in 1938 most likely felt the same as we do today.

In 1939 War was declared and the trains, with their cars full of young hopeful futures were all stopped, no longer being permitted to leave for the promise of safety and a future. A train was actually loaded up and was ready to depart the station just as the War was declared. It was in just a few short months that those same trains, now full of more children along with their parents, did indeed again depart Prague, but this time it was for a one way trip destined for what was to be Hitler’s final solution.

That 669 number of saved children, who were given the chance of freedom and life, went on to grow exponentially. The 669 married, having children, grandchildren and now great grandchildren. 669 saved young lives grew to 15,000 lives–all full of hope, dreams, love and thanks to Nicholas Winton, life.

When does 669 equal 15,000?

“The soul is healed by being with children.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“I work on the motto that if something’s not impossible, there must be a way of doing it.”
Nicholas Winton

young_nicholas_winton_with_rescued_child
(Nicholas Winton in 1938 with a young Jewish boy in Prague)

The year is 1938.
You’re 28 years old, a young British stock broker—successful and living the good life.
You’ve been keeping up with the current events throughout Europe, with a particularly keen interest in Czechoslovakia.
Hitler is on the march.
The Czechs, particularly the Jews, are trying to get out while they still can.
The war drums are beginning to echo from across the English Channel.
You’ve got two weeks vacation saved up.
Seems like a perfect time for a trip to Prague. . .

Fast forward to Sunday evening, April 27, 2014—time for 60 Minutes.
Correspondent Bob Simon hosts the story “Saving The Children”
He introduces us to 104 year old Nicholas Winton.

winton_prazsky_hrad
(Sir Nicholas Winton today)

I was just in the process of finishing up the dishes when the story started. Intrigued with the story’s intro, I immediately stopped what I was doing in order to give the story my full attention.

By the time the 60 Minute story ends, tears are streaming down my cheeks.
A tale of heroic action by one who simply thought he had to make a difference.
He had no corporate financial backing.
He had no Governmental backing.
He was not a member of the military.
He was merely a young man with a big heart.
A young man who simply knew that there were people, in particular families with young children, who were now in trouble. Never mind that these people were on the continent proper, hundreds of miles from his own home.
He had no clue as to what he would find.
He had no idea as to how to he could “fix” the current “bleeding”
He simply knew in his heart that he had to go and he had to try to help.
Hitler and his dreaded Nazis were coming, as was now Nicholas Winton.
The two were on a collision course with destiny.
One to save lives, the other to take lives.

I’m providing a link for anyone who would like to view the original story here:
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/saving-the-children-during-world-war-11-60-minutes/

Mr. Winton, who is actually Sir Winton, is a most unassuming 104 year old British gentleman. He has a gentle, soft spoken demeanor, with an ever so sly smile. For nearly 50 years, Sir Winton never actually spoke of the life changing events which took place during a trip to Prague in 1938. Had his wife not found an old faded yellow and long forgotten scrape book in their attic, filled with the grainy black and white photographs of hundreds of young children, the world may never have known of the difference one young Englishman had made so very long ago.

When asked by Bob Simon as to why he never told any one of his most heroic feat which spanned 1938-1939, Sir Winton replied that it wasn’t that he kept it secret, he just didn’t find it important to go on about it.
That was then.
This is now.
And he currently has other irons in the fire.

At 104 Sir Winton is currently involved in working with the elderly mentally handicapped of London as well as for building homes for senior citizens. Interesting that a man of 104 feels a deep need to take care of those who are a bit younger than himself when it seems as if he would be the one in need of care.

I will briefly delve into only the general specifics of Sir Winton’s heroic act of 1938, as you may certainly visit the 60 Minute link or peruse the Web for a more in-depth story of this remarkable man— I will however whet your appetite with a few of the highlights.

As the Nazis rolled into then Czechoslovakia, wanting to literally take the Sudetenland, which they felt was rightfully their own, just as they had rolled into Austria and soon Poland and Hungary, the citizens of Czechoslovakia began to panic, especially the Jews. Nicholas Winton was reading about these disturbing unfolding events in the daily news with keen interest. He decided to use his time saved for holiday for a trip to Prague to see what, if anything, he could do to help.

The short end of story is that Sir Winton decided to get out as many children as possible from the impending falling death ridden curtain which was quickly descending not only over Czechoslovakia but over most of Europe. He had no particular resources except for his own ingenuity and creativity laced with a bit of deception. He orchestrated the deportation of eventually 669 children. He had even written to President Franklin Roosevelt asking if the United States would help by taking in some of the children.

When explaining all of this to Bob Simon, Sir Winton rather nonchalantly recalls that the United States refused to be of assistance and what a pity that was as he suspects they may have been able to save many more children.

The truly sad part of the story was the interview of Mr. Hugo Meisl. Mr Meisl was 10 years old in 1939. He vividly recalls the day Adolph Hitler rode through the streets of Prague. He along with the other children of Prague were lined up along the street route and were all told that as soon as the Führer rode past, they were to give the obligatory raised arm salute of Heil Hitler.

He was one of the 669 children that was saved during Nicholas Winton’s deportation scheme. Bob Simon asks if he remembers his parents taking him to the train station to send him to what was to be a journey to the safety of a new life in England. Mr Meisl recalls as if it was yesterday his parents taking him to the station that fateful day. They were not emotional but had told him that he was to go to England on a 2 month holiday, at which time they would then come join him.

Bob Simon presses Mr. Meisl asking if he had believed his parents. “Of course” Mr Meisl answers “We had every reason to believe our parents.”
As the interview continues, we all painfully realize that Mr. Meisl never saw his parents again. Bob Simon interjects “After the war you went back to Czechoslovakia… Was there one instant where you accepted the fact that your parents were dead?”

At this point, Mr. Meisl becomes quite emotional (as do I) explaining that for the next three years following the War, as the trains returned from Siberia, Russia, returning back to Czechoslovakia those who had fled or who had been taken prisoner, he searched for his parents.

I was personally so taken by the raw emotions of this man, who is now nearing 90, as he recalls the day he said good-bye to his parents and then of the 3 year search and wait for a return and reunion that never took place.

As a parent myself, I am hard pressed to imagine having to send my young child away to what I hoped was safety, knowing I most likely would never have seen him again. The total lack of control over my very life and that of my child’s life is something I simply cannot wrap my brain around. I find it a tragedy that so many free Americans and Europeans today have no true cognizant or emotional concept of the price paid by so many of our parents and grandparents during a time the majority of us have no understanding of—

We think that we would not tolerate such action taken against us or our family, and yet, the citizens of much of Europe in 1938 most likely felt the same as we do today.

In 1939 War was declared and the trains, with their cars full of young hopeful futures were all stopped, no longer being permitted to leave for the promise of safety and a future. A train was actually loaded up and was ready to depart the station just as the War was declared. It was in just a few short months that those same trains, now full of more children along with their parents, did indeed again depart Prague, but this time it was for a one way trip destined for what was to be Hitler’s final solution.

That 669 number of saved children, who were given the chance of freedom and life, went on to grow exponentially. The 669 married, having children, grandchildren and now great grandchildren. 669 saved young lives grew to 15,000 lives–all full of hope, dreams, love and thanks to Nicholas Winton, life.