“His mission was not his own”

“His mission was not his own”
Words shared by The Rev Russell J. Levenson Jr
during his eulogy of his friend and parishioner, President G.H.W.Bush


(18 year old Lt George H.W.Bush in naval uniform)

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you came out on the other side
wondering how in the world you made it through?
How you survived and made it out alive?
Or more likely that you fared better than those around you?

Have you ever found yourself wondering or even lamenting “why me?”

Why me Lord?
Why was I spared and they weren’t?
Why did I win when I shouldn’t have–
knowing that someone else should have won?
Why was I so fortunate, or so lucky, and why were “they” not?

These can be haunting questions for anyone.
They can be a life’s curse or a life’s blessing.

For there is a great responsibility to whom much is given.
(Luke 12:48)

And life, for those who have had near brushes with death, know all too well, that
life suddenly becomes a tremendous responsibility.

Yet such a question as ‘why me’ can be particularly haunting
for one so young. For one who actually stares at death and yet surprisingly,
is allowed to walk away when others were not.

We have seen this in wars and sadly in recent terror attacks and mass shootings.

And it just so happened that this very overwhelming life issue of ‘why me’ actually
happened for a newly turned 20-year-old boy who found
himself alone in a small rubber yellow life raft, bobbing up and down in the middle of
the Pacific Ocean after having baled out of a burning airplane…
coming to the stalk revelation that he’d been spared while his friends had not.

This same “why me” question came up three times Wednesday during the funeral of our
41st president, George H. W. Bush.

First, the question was raised by Jon Meacham, the famed author, and presidential historian.
He painted the scene vividly as only such a gifted writer could.
A young naval pilot and his crew taking off from a Navy aircraft carrier with a bombing mission
on the docket.
They were to take out a Japanese radio tower on a tiny Pacific island.

“Shortly after dawn on Saturday, September 2, 1944, Lieutenant Junior Grade
George Herbert Walker Bush, joined by two crew mates,
took off from the USS San Jacinto to attack a radio tower on Chichijima.

As they approached the target, the air was heavy with flack.
The plane was hit.
Smoke filled the cockpit; flames raced across the wings.
“My god,” Lieutenant Bush thought,
“this thing’s gonna go down.”
Yet he kept the plane in its 35-degree dive, dropped his bombs, and then roared off out to sea,
telling his crew mates to hit the silk.
Following protocol, Lieutenant Bush turned the plane so they could bail out.

Only then did Bush parachute from the cockpit.
The wind propelled him backward, and he gashed his head on the tail of the plane
as he flew through the sky.
He plunged deep into the ocean, bobbed to the surface,
and flopped onto a tiny raft.
His head bleeding, his eyes burning, his mouth and throat raw from salt water,
the future 41st President of the United States was alone.

Sensing that his men had not made it, he was overcome.
He felt the weight of responsibility as a nearly physical burden.
And he wept.
Then, at four minutes shy of noon, a submarine emerged to rescue the downed pilot.
George Herbert Walker Bush was safe.
The story, his story and ours, would go on by God’s grace.

Through the ensuing decades, President Bush would frequently ask,
nearly daily— “why me?
Why was I spared?”

Next in line during this service, this looming question was raised by the former
Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney who also eulogized his former world leader compatriot
and more importantly, his dear friend.

Mulroney opened his verbal tribute to his friend by asking those in attendance if they could
remember what they were doing just after their 20th birthday.

Most should remember the joy and gaiety found in the passing a milestone—
that being the leaving behind of the tumultuous teenage years as they were
now standing on the great periphery of adulthood.

And yet I wonder as to how many of us know that at 20, one is more child than adult?

Mulroney shared that as he had just turned 20, he was working as a laborer in the outskirts
of Quebec while still living at home and thankfully enjoying his mother’s cooking.

All the while his one-day dear friend was bleeding and clinging to life in a liferaft
out in the middle of the Pacific ocean weeping “why me??”

For a third time this somber day of a State funeral, another speaker addressed the question…
“Why me?”

This time the speaker was President Bush 41’s parish priest,
The Rev. Bruce Levenson who once again raised the question but who rather matter of factly
gave us the answer.

Father Levenson explained that “his mission was not his own.”

His mission was not his own.

It was other than and much more than that liferaft bobbing up and down in the
ocean…

Yet that is not to say that the lives of his comrades at arms on that fateful day
were any less important.
Any less than, as some might think with such a response to such a question.
That somehow, they were simply “allowed” to die while young George was allowed to live.
The issue of allowance is not to be the issue here nor are we to be recipients of such
deep knowledge.

For God uses our lives and our deaths to extend far beyond our simple understanding.

It is the ripples that reverberate outward from the dropped stone in the pond.

The ‘why me’ questions that have been asked by countless individuals who have lived to tell of
another day all live with a tremendous burden of guilt and a tremendous burden of responsibility.

Father Levenson, James Baker, Al Simpson, Brian Mulroney and even son George H. Bush
each reminded us that a day did not pass in George Herbert Walker Bush’s life that he did
not ask that question…nor not feel the heavy responsibility.

He either asked the question audibly or silently…but he asked none the less each and every day.

I am reminded of the 1946 Christmas Classic It’s a Wonderful Life.

The entire premise of the movie, for Jimmy Stewart’s character George (so aptly named),
was what would life have been without him. How in turn would the lives of those who
were a part of his own life turn out without a George Bailey to interact with them?

One dark and lonely Christmas eve night so long ago, George was inches away from ending his
own life, by jumping into an icy cold river.
Yet God needed to give George a wake-up call.
He still needed George to do some important things.

Much like in the real-life story of a young George Bush…God still needed
for him to do some things.

Now I can’t say that all such stories have happy endings.
Nor can I say that all spared lives seem to turn out better than imagined.
So why George H. W. Bush?

That is the question remaining for all those lives that have been affected,
touched and even created because of him to ponder…as well as those of
us who have been directly or indirectly affected by his actions, choices,
legislation as well as leadership to ponder…

Yet the one thing that I do know…the same thing that President Bush knew…
is that God will have has His ways.

Ways that elude us.
Ways that often frustrate us, but they are His ways and His alone none the less.

What President Bush learned, one of life’s most important answers, was that his life,
his mission was indeed not his own…
it was God’s.

That we should all bend our ways to be His ways…

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!
You have been faithful with a few things;
I will put you in charge of many things.
Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Matthew 25:23

tuning in

”What the press has been in the Nineteenth Century, radio will be for the Twentieth Century.”
Joseph Goebbels
Hitler’s Nazi Propaganda Minister


(My grandfather’s mid 1940’s Philco shortwave radio / Julie Cook / 2017)

I’m still in the process of slowly but surely picking through a lifetime of
“stuff” buried in Dad’s basement and attic…
Today my husband and I schlepped down and up two ancient pieces of technology…

One being grandfather’s 1942 shortwave radio…which if the truth be told, Dad had commandeered as a teen.

I can remember when I was little, “tuning in” to very “staticky” pitch rising
and falling foreign voices.
What I was hearing and listening to was both thrilling and frustrating.

Thrilling because I was listening to distant sounding voices in Germany,
Italy, Japan as my imagination carried me around a world that had most recently
seemed detached and strange.
Yet frustrating because I had not a single clue as to what was being said.

This was a time during the height of the Cold War.
Spies, Communists and propaganda was rife as was the threat of nuclear
annihilation…and as an impressionable young girl,
I yearned to be a part of it all…
the radio could be my key….or so I thought.

But my spy days were short lived due in part to to my age as well as my lack
of a language other than my own.
And I’m certain that watching shows such as The Man From U.N.C.L.E. as well
as Get Smart fueled that youthful imagination of mine.

So today as I brought the radio up from the basement,
the memory of my short lived spy days came flooding back
to the forefront of conciousness…

Once home this afternoon, I did a little research and was intrigued
to read that shortwave radio was still alive and well….

Old school technology seems to be happily having a bit of a resurgence…
Maybe low tech just might have a stronger and longer lasting connection
in the long run of importance…
who knew?!

“Did you know that it is possible for you to reach the entire world with
your message? Are you aware that you can reliably communicate to the
entire world from a single radio station that is equipped with multiple
antennas that target the entire globe and multiple transmitters?
If you live in the United States, this is a secret that has been held
by interest groups for nearly fifty years.
This secret is broadcasting on international world-band shortwave radio.”

“Recently, it has come to our attention that the internet as a whole may soon
become a field unsuitable for spreading the Gospel in any form.
More and more it is seen on the news how the United Nations is
trying to seize control of the internet. Countries that are members
of the United Nations are obliged to acknowledge the United Nations as
a superior authority.
As a result, if the United Nations gains control of the internet,
one could very easily find him or herself without the freedoms
guaranteed in the United States,
facing U.N. World Court in the Hague for ‘hate crimes,’
should someone or some interest group take offense to someone’s webcasts
or web page.
International world-band shortwave broadcasting, however,
is firmly protected in the United States under freedom of speech in the
First Amendment of the Constitution, and is protected from such restriction.
The idea of being brought up by the United Nations to World Court
for hate crimes may seem a bit of a stretch, but then again,
who would ever have thought Canada would officially proclaim the Holy Bible as
‘hate literature?’

“You are now aware of the best kept secret of evangelism.
This candle of truth, in America long hidden under a bushel,
is now placed on a candlestick,
where it illuminates America with the truth of the secret of world-band
international shortwave radio.
Shortwave radio is rapidly returning to America as people seek a source of
news and information that is unfettered by the forces of political correctness
and government policy.
With international shortwave radio rapidly becoming popular in the United States,
now is the best time to begin broadcasting, catching the wave of new listeners on international world-band shortwave.”

International Radio Station WWRB

Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim
to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;
and he said with a loud voice,
“Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come;
and worship him who made heaven and earth,
the sea and the fountains of water.”

Revelation 14:6-7

living in before

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there,
wondering, fearing, doubting,
dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.

Edgar Allan Poe

“Some dreams are best not to wake up from.”
Hiroo Onoda


(before the beaver, there was a tree / on the shores of Mackinac Island, Lake Huorn /
Julie Cook / 2017)

Following the official unconditional surrender offered by the
Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu,
on behalf of the nation of Japan on September 2, 1945 aboard the USS Missouri…
a ceremony presided over by General Douglas MacArthur,
Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Pacific…
life for a handful of soldiers remained unchanged…
their lives, duty and existence continued on as it had before the surrender.

For despite the war having been officially declared over, there remained a smattering
of Japanese soldiers hunkered down and holding on to various small
South Pacific islands…
soldiers, cut off from commanding units and or communication, all unaware
that their nation had surrendered let alone that the war was now
indeed officially over.

Hiroo Onoda was one such soldier.

Onoda had been trained as an intelligence officer…
specifically trained to gather intelligence in order to carry out and conduct
a guerrilla war against the enemy.
He, and a unit of men underneath his command, had been taken to Lubang Island
in the Philippines with direct orders.

On December 26th, 1944, Onoda was sent to Lubang Island in the Philippines.
His orders from his commanding officer, Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, were simple:

You are absolutely forbidden to die by your own hand.
It may take three years, it may take five, but whatever happens,
we’ll come back for you. Until then, so long as you have one soldier,
you are to continue to lead him. You may have to live on coconuts.
If that’s the case, live on coconuts!
Under no circumstances are you [to] give up your life voluntarily.

Daven Hiskey
Feb 9, 2010
‘Today I Found Out’

Following the end of the war Onoda fought on for another 29 years …

Onoda had refused to believe the “propaganda” in the way of dropped leaflets,
villagers pleas or former fellow Japanese soldiers sent to tell Onoda the truth.
He refused to believe any of it but rather was convinced it was all a ploy
by the enemy to take control of the island.

Until 1975 when his former commanding officer,
now an old man working at a bookstore in Japan,
was brought to the island to convince Onoda of the truth.

Reluctantly, yet ever the solider, on March 10, 1975 at the age of 52 an emaciated
Hiroo Onoda put on his 30 plus year old dress uniform and marched
from his jungle hideout to present then Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos
his samurai sword.

Over those 30 years Onoda’s small band of fellow soldiers had either
eventually surrendered or died…
but Onoda remained a loyal guerrilla fighter making life miserable for the local
islanders. The islanders did their best to convince Onoda that Japan had
surrendered and that the war was over. During the 30 years Onoda fought his single
war, 30 villagers were killed and 100’s of others were wounded by this
lone guerrilla fighter

The story in itself is fascinating as well as sad.

Yet Onoda’s story is not just a story of survival or of disbelief,
or of skewed conviction but rather his is a tale about living life
in the before verses the after.

There was a single event that had marked the end of the war…
However Onoda had not been privy to that event.
He had not witnessed the surrender.
He knew his Nation’s determination.
He did not actually hear with his own ears the words spoken by his leaders.
He had been given a single command, and until he heard a reversal command
from his commanding officer, he would do his duty and serve his nation to his
utmost ability.

Rarely is such conviction found in men.

I thought of this story yesterday following the news I received regarding
the death of my aunt. Whereas she had been sick and even worsening,
the death from cardiac arrest came suddenly and unexpectedly yet in hindsight,
most likely blessedly.

Had I not answered my phone yesterday morning….
in my small narrow world, my aunt would still be alive.
She would be living on in my perceived reality.

For had I not heard the word, had I not been informed of the factual event
I would have gone on as before…knowing she was sick, fighting cancer, hanging on…
but not having died….not just yet.

The life of living before or the life of living after.

Before is usually what we know, what we’ve come to expect and what we rest in.
After equates to new, different, unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

In all of this I think of Thomas, the doubter.
The one disciple who had not been with the others when a risen Jesus
had manifest himself to their broken hearts.

And as Thomas happened to be away from the group, still broken hearted,
still wounded of spirit, still grieving…
he refused to believe the fantastical and or miraculous offered by his friends.

“Not until I see with my own eyes, put my hands in his wounds…I will not believe.”

Oh how we are all so convinced by the acknowledgement of our senses.
Convicted by sense.

For Onoda, the war had actually been over for those 30 years he lived in a
remote jungle fighting a non-existent war.

For my aunt, she died at 12:40 yesterday afternoon had I or had I not
answered the phone.

Jesus rose with or without Thomas having been present to see, touch, hear, feel…..

But because Jesus knew that we would all be so much like Thomas—needing
to be convinced, He offered Thomas, who continues offering each of us
the acknowledgement….
“my Lord, my God….”

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them,
“Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger
in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them.
The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said,
“Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas,
“Put your finger here, and see my hands;
and put out your hand, and place it in my side;
do not be faithless, but believing.”
Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him,
“Have you believed because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

John 20:24-29

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2541104/Japanese-soldier-Hiroo-Onoda-refused-surrender-WWII-spent-29-years-jungle-died-aged-91.html

a day lived in infamy to our endless gratitude

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy —
the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces
of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and,
at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government
and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific….”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Addresses the Nation following the attack at Pearl Harbor

71381-004-534732c4
(image of the USS Arizona after it was bombed)

75 years later…we still carry a heaviness on this December day.

During the course of World War II, there were many atrocities, unspeakable brutalities
and a loss of life that is nearly impossible to wrap one’s head around.

Pearl Harbor was but one horrific moment in a long line or horrific moments during the
duration a war steeped in the abominable.

For whatever reason, I do not feel as if this generation grasps the full significance of the
tremendous impact WWII has played in the history of mankind…
nor do I feel that they particularly seem to care.

The loss of life was staggering.
It is estimated that 80 million people lost their lives during the course of the war,
between 3% and 4% of the world’s population at the time…

Add to that those lives of the many more who were dramatically wounded or whose
family’s survived loss and destruction…those who were affected and are considered to be secondary casualties…
Those such numbers are simply left to our fading memories.

The USS Arizona, one of the 8 battleships bombed that fateful December day,
lies as a silent haunting specter on the floor of Pearl Harbor
as she is the lasting tomb of 1,548 servicemen…those whose bodies were never recovered.
A visual tomb which rests just below the surface of the sea.

But my thoughts however today are not merely with those individuals who lost their
lives that fateful December day 75 years ago, but rather my thoughts
gravitate to the collective family of all Servicemen and woman
who have continued putting themselves in harm’s way for those of us who
simply go about living our lives, day to day, as if nothing has ever been different.

I think of a young entitled football player who opts out of sharing in his country’s
national anthem prior to his taking the field of play…
to participate in a game in which he earns millions of dollars.
A game he can play in safety because there are Service men and woman
making certain that he is free to opt out of his country’s national
anthem and to simply play a game.

Lives put on the line every day, as well as countless lives lost,
all for a young man to be able to
make millions of dollars while playing a footbal game…

The balance of those two thoughts will never equal one another.

And it was just yesterday that I finally sent an item home
to it’s rightful serviceman’s family…
45 years after the fact.

A single stainless steel bracelet worn by a young Georgia elementary school girl…
worn as a reminder and a tiny link to a man who was living, and had lived,
for 7 years in captivity, held by the North Vietnamese in a land that
seemed to be lifetime away.

Three years ago, as a Fourth of July tribute, I wrote a post about the POW bracelet that
I wore so very long ago.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/an-overdue-thank-pow-lt-col-james-young/

It is a post that I still occasionally receive comments on to this day…
by those individuals who also wore Lt. Col. James Young’s POW bracelet

Lt.Col Young was taken prisoner in 1966.
At the time his daughter Denise was just an infant.
For almost 8 years her father was simply a name and a face in family photographs…
because she had no recollection of the man who was currently in a prison camp
thousands of miles away in a remote Asian country.

Not until 1973, when most of our prisoners were released with the signing of the
agreement to end the war, would Denise be formally introduced to her father.

Denise met her dad for the very first time when she was 8.
Eight birthdays and eight Christmases came and went before Denise was to meet her dad.
A man who was not the same man who left his infant daughter in the arms of his wife
as he went to fight a strange war on a foreign land.

Those of you who know me know that I do not participate in social media.
It has always been my thought that if God wanted someone to see or read my blog,
He would bring that person my way….

He did just that this past summer.

Out of the blue in June, on Father’s day actually, I received a comment on the post
I’d written about Lt Col. James Young…
the comment however was not by someone, who like me had worn his bracelet during those dark days of the war, but rather the comment came from his youngest daughter, Denise.

There was even a comment that I had made to others who had reached out to me
about wearing the bracelet that I had hoped that one day one of his daughters
would see the post and then I could actually send them the bracelet.

And on Father’s day of 2016, almost 45 years after the day I took off that bracelet,
a now grown daughter received word that piece of her dad,
who had passed away years earlier,
was still very much in the minds and hearts of many other individuals across this nation.

As life has a way of getting in the way, it wasn’t until this past weekend that I finally
retrieved the bracelet out of the safety deposit box,
packed it up and sent it across the country to an anxious daughter.

dscn4694
(a collection surrounding the bracelet, photos of the family upon his return as I had written to the family when I learned of his return and the letter I was to send but never did with the bracelet, until finally this past week)

I could never give back to Denise those nearly 8 years she lived without her dad.
Nor could I have offered her help during those unimaginable days of adjustment that a
family endured at the return of a long lost member…
a time of reacquaintance and simply getting to know one another again…
or in the case of Denise, getting to know for the first time…

Nobody can give any of that back to a family of a Service member.

But we can however unite as a Nation..
uniting when it comes to respecting our flag,
uniting when it comes to our National Anthem
and uniting as show of solidarity for our collective Service members and their families…
as they give,
have given
and continue to give more than any of us can ever repay….

And so I thank Denise, her family, and her father, Lt Col. James Young,
for the sacrifices they made for not only this Nation as a whole,
but to me and all the other individuals out there who make this county who and what she is…
even to those young entitled individuals who simply don’t get this whole mindset of sacrifice….

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

John 15:12-13

what was…

“Life can only be understood backwards;
but it must be lived forwards.”

―Søren Kierkegaard

“Yesterday is gone.
Tomorrow has not yet come.
We have only today.
Let us begin.”

― Mother Teresa

DSCN1261
(a hodge lodge of broken bits and pieces of stain glass, Bunratty Castel / Co Clare, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

We are not like the generations of the past, you and I.
Those generations before us were often forced to sacrifice, often having to go without.
They were brave yet they would not consider themselves such.
They were merely living the best way they knew how.
Yet we look back to the past and those prior generations…
and what we find is not often to our liking.

So we think that maybe erasing and then rewriting what we don’t like..
Thinking that will make things better…making us better.
We decide to use the lenses of the 21st century to rewrite perceived wrongs of the past.
But what we don’t understand, don’t get, is that those wrongs of the past,
weren’t exactly wrong….back there in the past…or at least they were not perceived as such.
It’s what seemed right for that generation of then…not necessarily for us here in the now.

For good or bad, that’s where it is…or rather where it was.
In the past.
Rewriting it, altering it, hoping to hide it, won’t change it.
Our overt political correctness and our joining of hands in kumbaya over all things tolerance
cannot change what was…no matter how hard we try a re-do.

Flags once flown,
Anthems and songs once sung
Stories once told
Monuments once erected
Wars once fought
all the fodder of the hopes and the dreams of a people now gone.

Do we serve them well by replacing them with us?
In someways and in some laws…perhaps…
Yet we must remember that they are not us, nor are we them…

Their’s was a different time.
Perceptions were different.
People were different
Lands and maps were different.
Hopes and dreams were different…

We can’t erase them, their lives, their moments…
simply because we no longer agree, see eye to eye, or possess the same filters of sight.

Yet we are allowing the loud voices of today to force our compliance in a desecration of a people that simply once were.

History is that….history… as in the past.
We learn from it, we can correct it’s mistakes in our today’s world but we can’t correct what was then in their world…
No matter how we try.

We learn over time…
We learn from experiences and mistakes…
We hope to learn not to repeat the same mistakes of the history of those who went before us.

Germany
Russia
Japan
Great Britain
The US…

We all have dark histories that we are now none to proud to bear.
But part of our responsibility to both those of the past, as to all of us now as to those who are yet to be, is not in hiding what was, whitewashing it into a nonexistent netherworld…
but rather to see it for what it was, good or bad, learn from it and then not to repeat it.

If we whitewash over everything,
pretending it never existed or offer a shoddy job of trying to rewrite it, trying to fix it to meet today’s standards, then we risk a far greater calamity in hiding or changing the truths of the past by exchanging them for the hopes of the future.

It is a dangerous job to pretend things were different when they were not.
It is dangerous to erase what was while changing it in to what is…
because what was can never be what is…
but it can be repeated…with a greater degree of ferocity…

He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.

Daniel 2:21

“The Cost Of Courage”

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.
“Atticus Finch”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

“There is a man who would give his life to keep a life you love beside you.”

― Charles Dickens

“Courage isn’t having the strength to go on – it is going on when you don’t have strength.”
― Napoléon Bonaparte

DSC02492
(the cover of my most recent read)

According to Merriam Webster, courage, a noun, is defined as the “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”

Is it something we are born with?
Perhaps something hardwired as well as innate?

It seems as if it’s something that transforms ordinary human beings into the extraordinary–
Beckoning some to run towards a catastrophe. . .while others run as far away as possible.

Yet when it comes to courage, there is always tragically a flip side. That’s the thing about courage, it exacts a toll.
For each act of courage or bravery, the remnants can result in a tremendous cost—a willing sacrifice of everyone and everything which the courageous holds dear. A sacrifice offered up within a nano second, sans decision making, without thoughts of consequence or possibilities of regret–all of which are assumed and accepted rapidly without remorse. . .

Throughout the duration of WWII there are many known stories of bravery and sacrifice offered by ordinary citizens.
Yet for every known account of courage and sacrifice, there are countless tales of the extraordinary that are simply lost to the annuals of time. . .of which stretch from Italy, to Poland, from Russia to Czechoslovakia, From Albania to Turkey, From Japan to Hawaii, from France to Great Britain. . .

I’ve read countless numbers of books about the lives and exploits of those known and unknown average individuals, across the globe, whose private moments of sacrifice changed the course of destiny for vast numbers of the unsuspecting—all of which saved and spared those otherwise doomed.
Sacrifice which often left the courageous individual on the losing end of life.

And that’s the thing about courage and the courageous—the ultimate cost is readily paid with no expectation of reparation.

Author Charles Kaiser has compiled an extraordinary tale of the greatest cost paid by one Parisian family during the Nazi Occupation of Paris. The true story, untold until Kaiser’s personal connection with the family wove itself into a printable format, is but a scant microcosm of the real price paid by the average French citizen during the French Resistance which grew from the defeat and eventual occupation of France by Nazi Germany.

Not only is this a tale about a single family’s war tragedy and of the tiny ensuing triumphs found in liberation and freedom– freedom of which should ensure that life in one’s own county is lived as one culturally and religiously should live—rather it is a tale of all those individuals and families who believed in a life free from murderous tyranny and of the choices they each took to guard against its ultimate conquest.

I think such a story of the sacrifices made for the betterment of not merely one’s self, but rather for the betterment of all of humanity, is so vastly timely as well as important for those of us living today in the 21st century. . .
It is a story that is not only to be shared and remembered, but it is a story which reminds those of us who enjoy the freedom of life today that we owe an endless depth of gratitude to those who once gave so very much. . .

Merci mes amis. . .

A must read. . .

What will you leave behind

And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
Jeremiah 23:3

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(the story of a piece of wood found in a cross cut knot / Julie Cook / 2015)

Recently I read a story on the BBC website about an ominous discovery. It was a story about finding, along with the subsequent necessity of diffusing, an undetonated bomb from WWII. The bomb precipitated the largest post war evacuation ever in the history of Cologne, Germany.

As is often the case, a construction company preparing a site for some new underground pipe made the frightening discovery. The unexploded 1 ton bomb was buried 16 feet below the surface.

20,000 city residents, including those from an elderly care facility along with the Zoo, several schools and surrounding businesses were all evacuated in Cologne yesterday as the Rhine River was closed to commerce as was the air space over the city as a bomb squad team was dispersed to safely unarm the bomb.

According to the German newspaper Die Spiegel it is estimated that hundreds of tons of bombs are discovered yearly littered throughout Europe, with the highest percentage being found in Germany–Thousands of undetonated bombs are either buried underground or lying on the bottom of ocean floors–from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Underneath the lives of 21st century modern-day Germans—under homes, major thoroughfares, schools, churches, synagogues, shopping centers, business. . .all unsuspecting that there is a dark reminder which lies hidden just below their now busy and peaceful lives.

Several times throughout any given year, global news is littered with stories of farmers, fishermen as well as construction crews who inadvertently make such grim and frighting discoveries. Be it the fishermen off the coast of Denmark dragging their nets to awaiting underwater remnants, to construction crews in Germany, Poland, England, Amsterdam and Russia who accidentally uncover an all too explosive past to the farmers in France and Belgium who simply labor to plant their fields which are rife with a deadly debris—all live bombs that were dropped 70 years ago which still pose a very real and dangerous threat today.

In 2014 a man operating a back hoe in the town of Euskirchen near Bonn was killed when he accidentally hit a buried bomb, triggering the deadly explosion. Eight others were injured

In 2011, 6000 citizens on the outskirts of Paris were evacuated from their neighborhood when a 1000 pound unexploded RAF bomb was discovered by a construction crew.

In 2012 thousands of citizens were evacuated in Munich when the discovery of an undetonated 550 pound bomb was found laying buried beneath a nightclub made famous in the 1970’s by the British Rock Group, the Rolling Stones.

Yet it is not only Germany or her sister countries of Europe or Russia which are sitting on top of potential catastrophes. . .
Millions of buried land-mines litter the Balkan region which spans 11 countries. In recent years, these countries have witnessed heavy and devastating flooding. . . flooding which has in turn unearthed thousands of undetonated deadly land-mines. Long buried reminders from the Bosnian War of 1992-1995.

Last year the British news agency The Telegraph ran an article about how scientists from both France and Croatia have been working together on enlisting “sniffer bees” to help “sniff” out explosives. Scientists discovered that the bees olfactory sense is on par with that of dogs and that the bees can be trained to keenly sniff out TNT. Bomb experts hope to release the bees in the fields while following their movement as they “hone” in on buried explosives.

Southeast Asia is also rife with deadly reminders of its tumultuous past as a fare share of its forgotten nightmares, those thousands of undetonated buried bombs and land-mines, all of which now litter the fields, streams and cities from Vietnam to Laos to Cambodia to Korea and even to Japan.

And then there is the Middle East. . .Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, Iran. . .

The global list of the dark reminders of conflicts, police actions, as well as world wars, litter the world like a spilled bowl of popcorn.

The mainland of the United States has been left relatively unscathed when it comes to things such as land-mines and buried undetonated bombs. The US is fortunate in that the sorts of discovery of war paraphernalia is from wars fought long past. . . Revolutionary, Indian, Spanish and Civil Wars—all long before modern warfare’s use of live ammunition and bombs.
Only the wayward musket ball, arrowhead, spear, sword or cannon ball. . .

Yet there are those rare times that a country is privy to more shining historical moments such when a farmer, tending a lone field somewhere in the UK, or an errant treasure hunter detects, then digs up, a hoard of Roman coins or battle gear. There was even the recent story of the lost remains of a once dubious king, King Richard III, being unearthed from underneath a parking lot in Leicester.

These are the stories of what lurks beneath our feet. . .

Yet the question remains. . .
What of future generations?
What shall they be unearthing that once belonged to us. . .
What will our discarded, throwaway, perhaps deadly legacy be. . .
What of the dead zones such of Chernobyl or Fukushima?
What of our own Love Canal and Three Mile Island?
What of the mountains of discarded toxic trash littering Paraguay and Argentina?
Much of which has been shipped from the US to be dumped in impoverished countries.
That whole “not in my backyard” mentality.
It is the poisonous remains of our love affair with the never ending growth of technology and electronics. . .all full of lead, mercury,cadmium, dioxin. . .
Thrown out and shipped out. . .as in. . .out of sight, out of mind. . .

Hidden dark reminders of our fractious as well as industrial past, resting unsuspected and forgotten. . .until a child playing in a field finds a shiny piece of metal sticking up out of the ground and makes the fatal mistake of pulling it out. . .

The question remains, what will future generations unearth that once belonged to us and what will be the consensus?