update on James

First…I want to thank each of you from the bottom of my heart for your continued prayers
for this newest family member of ours.

My husband and I had thought to steal away for a few days while our son is still on paternity leave—
because once he heads back to work, I’ll head back to Atlanta in order to help out.

Throw in a cat (Percy) who will have a joint fusion surgery the first of June,
and time is nowhere near on my side.

We had only been at our beach destination a few hours when we got the call
from our son that they had raced 3-week old baby James to the ER due to an out of the blue high fever.

The Children’s hospital began running a myriad of tests including a spinal tap and an ultrasound
on his kidneys.
His white blood cell count was high.

They are currently treating him with antibiotics through an IV for a urinary infection with
the concern that he might have something known as urine reflux–where the urine flows back into
the body…
Tomorrow they will conduct a dye test in order to monitor the flow.

Remember he was born with what is thought to be a skewed urethra and so his circumcision is
going to have to be delayed….
this new caveat may or may not necessitate some sort of faster action.

They’re hoping he can be released by Saturday.

Meanwhile, we drove nearly a 10-hour roundabout way from Florida to Atlanta back
to Carrollton.
We drove to Atlanta to pick up Autumn (aka The Mayor) visited with our son while
he and our daughter-n-law are tag-teaming time at the hospital.

Did I mention the gas leak?

We were up visiting Sunday. Our daughter-n-law kept telling us she smelled gas.
My husband and son scoured the basement but couldn’t really detect much of an odor
but we did catch a whiff now and then.

We called GA Nat Ga and they sent out a technician.
He did find a small leak leading to the hot water heater from a pipe that
had bowed over time.
He fixed it.

Then as soon as we had left on our trip, they called up saying the smell was stronger.
Another call and another technician found a larger leak.
The gas was cut off to the house which now means no hot water.

So a different plumbing technician has to come out this evening while either our
son or daughter-n-law is home from the hospital.

And so while the Mayor is non-stop and is here with two exhausted old people, I’ll
be a little slow to respond to all of the kind words offered our way…of which mean
so very much—a community of prayer warriors has blessed us beyond measure.

Mother’s Day–happy and nostalgic

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born
and the day you find out why.

Mark Twain


(me and mom circa 1980 )

The fact of life is that we all have two parents.
A mother and a father.

If life is as we would wish it to be, we will know both of these parents.
They will love us and we will love them.

We will all grow together through both ups and downs.

Yet if life opts for a different path, we may or may not know our parents…
or we may not love them and they may not love us.

However, the fact of the matter remains— we all have had two parents.

And we all had a mother who carried us for, give or take, nine months.

If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know that those 9 months can be joyous, fretful, painful,
jolting, frightening and certainly changing.

Most of us have one mother…
I, on the other hand, had three.

My first mother, my original mother, my birth mother, is unknown to me.

In early 1959 a 23-year-old woman became pregnant.
Plans did not go as perhaps they should have and this young woman up and moved away
from her home…moving to a large city where she could blend in and become,
for the most part, anonymous.

She never traveled home for those many months as her pregnancy was her secret to keep.

She gave birth to a premature baby girl and left the hospital shortly thereafter.

Leaving behind…me.

I eventually went into foster care until I was adopted by the woman who would become my
second mother, or what is commonly known as an adoptive mom.


(me and mom on my wedding day, 1983)

When I was a teenager I was sent another mother…a God-mother.
I say ‘sent’ because I honestly believe God sent in a pinch hitter because He knew
the turns my life would take and that I would need someone to catch me when I’d fall.

And I fell many times.

This third mother was the wife of the Dean of the Cathedral of St Philip.
Both she and her husband designated themselves as my God-parents.
They were keenly aware of the fact that I was in desperate need for Godly parental guidance…
and it was at such a pivotal age.

They offered stability, encouragement and a clear Spiritual direction.
This Godmother taught me the importance of what it was to be a Godly woman, wife and mother…
despite all evil attempts to disrupt such.

She also taught me about Spiritual healing…healing that was crucial to my very survival.


(a grainy photo of Ginny Collins from 1978 / Julie ‘Nichols’ Cook)

Tragically, due to my brother’s mental illness, my adopted family was a caustic and dysfunctional mess.
It was an illness that took a grave toll on all of us,
but perhaps none greater than upon our adopted mom.

My brother and I were both adopted, five years apart, and we each had different biological parents.

Mother died very unhappy and prematurely at the age of 53.

My Godmother then stepped deeper into the fray of acting as a surrogate guide.
Her support and guidance remained a key part of my life until up until the time she died.

She died two years ago at the age of 94.

On the polar opposite end of the spectrum of life and of the two women, I eventually lost,
is my biological mother.
She is now 83 and is still living–but where I truly cannot say nor of what path her life
eventually took.

Maybe one day we will meet and I can tell her something very important.

Maybe I will be able to say to her “thank you.”
Thanking her for the selfless gift she gave me…that being the gift life.

Had she been selfish, putting her life and plans first, you and I wouldn’t be currently sharing
this moment together.

And I wouldn’t have my son or his wife or their two children in my life.

The choices we make in this thing we call life all have far-reaching and lasting effects…
be they negative or positive.

Life is positive.
Abortion is not.
My biological mother chose life rather than my death.

So today I want to thank all three of these women…
these three mothers who were, unbeknownst to one another,
intertwined in a single life..that life being mine.
Be it either briefly or for far much longer, they each gave me various gifts of love.

A love that now lives on in two precious little grandchildren…

And so on this Mother’s Day 2019, I want to say thank you to three women.

Firstly, thank you to my biological mother for the choice of giving me life.
I miss not having known you.

Secondly, to Mary Ann my adoptive mother, thank you for taking me into your heart and raising me–
a role that was no easy task—I have missed you terribly.

And finally to Ginny, my adopted Godmother, thank you for instilling in me the
importance of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…thank you for teaching me
what it means to live, to love, to confess, to repent, to forgive and to be forgiven…
I miss your wisdom.

And lastly, I want to thank a fourth woman.

Thank you, Abby, my dear daughter-n-law…

Thank you for loving our son.

Thank you for opening your heart to us and our family…
and thank you for the gift of two precious babies…The Mayor and her new Sheriff…

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things
your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live.
Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

Deuteronomy 4:9

let us give thanks

Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece,
make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books –
especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day,
give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.

John Wooden


(peony / Julie Cook / 2018)

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17

tired and out of time

“Photography takes an instant out of time,
altering life by holding it still.”

Dorothea Lange


(Mother’s tiny tea rose is blooming again / Julie Cook / 2017)

I want to thank all of you who have read my posts about Dad—
offering your love, support and prayers.

It was a very long day and night…
our time is running out…
there are now raging hallucinations…
the body is imploding as toxins have their way…
agitation plays havoc…

And everyone is weary…

Your prayers have meant so much as we continue to be sustained by that most Mystical connection…
As I now ask for prayers leading to that eventual peace which surpasses all understanding….

I’ll be back soon…

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.
But he laid his right hand upon me, saying,
“Fear not, I am the first and the last,
and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore,
and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

Revelation 1:17-18

life is truly a mixed bag of nuts

I’ve seen a look in dogs’ eyes,
a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt,
and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.

John Steinbeck

mixed-nuts

Life is truly a mixed bag of nuts…
Despite our best preparations, plots and plans…
most of the time we have no clue as to what we’re going to get.

The tasty or the succulent, the salty or the sweet,
the crunchy or the sour or even the stale and the rotten…

But as it is life, we take what we can get, and get when we can…

Aunt Mothaaaa, aka Martha, met with the oncologist yesterday.
I was sitting with Dad when she called with her news.

Now you need to know that we’ve been living under a huge dark cloud.
Dad is dad and sadly rapidly declining.

Martha’s news of a spreading cancer hit like a rock.
She told me Sunday that she refused to turn the lights on her christmas tree
and wondered if she’d ever see those precious heirloom ornaments of hers ever again…
as she had begun expressing how she wanted her things to be “divvied up”…

Funny what we think about when faced with our own mortality…

Heaviness had wrapped its suffocating arms tightly around my small family.

When Martha called, I stepped out of dad’s room as I had not yet told
him about Martha.

There was a light joy in her voice.

The Oncologist told her that the cancer had indeed come from the
removed diseased kidney.
Chemotherapy wouldn’t touch it.
And there was no way to radiate three organs
And there was no cure for the cancer…

But….

He told her that she can take a pill, four times a day, for the rest of her life
and that will keep the cancer at bay, keeping it from spreading.

She was elated.

I finally exhaled…something I don’t think I’ve done in three weeks.

So whereas things are tragically racing down hill faster than I like for Dad,
we will stop momentarily this day, in order to rejoice for this moment
for Aunt Mothaaaaaaaa!

Who by the way has asked that I thank all “my blogging peeps”, my friends, for their
prayers…
because for next to being told she was cancer free, yesterday’s news was
about as good as it could get…

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.

Psalm 5:11

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

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(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

Greater love

DSCN0009
(flowers from a street vendor Grafton St. Dublin Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I bought you some flowers, well sort of, for Valentine’s day.
I wanted to say thank you.
I want to thank you for taking time out of your day and and of your life in order to stop by here….this little corner of the world I call my own..here on cookiecrumbs.
Your visits, your reading, your commenting, your support, your friendship are each deeply appreciated.
All of which has been your special gift to me…and means so very much.

The inception of the recognition of Valentine’s day being based on the martyred death of a 3rd century Christian, should never be lost in the hoopla and the hype of the overtly commercialized “holiday” we know today.

That this modern day recognition of Valentine’s Day, a day to honor, recognize and profess our undying love to those we hold dear or better yet, hope to dearly hold…
This day designated for spending, buying and bestowing…a day of all things red, beating hearts, flowers, chocolate, devotion and professing…
A day which should never overshadow that Valentine’s day, a day named for a saint of the same name and of which is certainly a day of love, is based on the selfless love of giving one’s life for another…with the greatest example being that of the blood shed by one who hung upon a cross…for you and for me…
for there has never been any greater love….

St Valentine was a bishop, and is thought to have been a physician.
He was arrested for giving aid to Christian prisoners awaiting martyrdom, and
while imprisoned he converted the jailer by restoring sight to the jailer’s daughter.
St. Valentine refused to deny Christ before the Emperor Claudius in the year 280 and won the
jeweled crown of martyrdom by his faithful witness.
The feast of St Valentine was first established in 496 by Pope Gelasius I

(as seen on a Catholic prayer card)

finding a faith stone through the dark times

“…in our willful desire to live independently of God, we have severed the lifeline that flows from the source of all life”
Billy Graham

DSCN0438
(Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough National Park, County Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

There are no exemptions in this life when it comes to difficulties, struggles, trials and conflicts.
Some are self imposed, some are random and some, for the believer, can be most vexing…
for it can often feel as if God has…
walked away,
deserted us,
or…
is proving to be more stubborn than ourselves.

Some periods will be more severe than others and there is certainly no clear window as to how long or how short such episodes will each last.

There will be times of great dryness…a rough patch of road that leaves one feeling empty…
or better yet, feeling nothing at all, as in void of feeling or emotion…
A sense of isolation, depression and emptiness…

Other times there will be the feeling as if the rug has been pulled out from under foot …
As one is left wondering if facing one more moment, let alone one more day, is even possible…preferring simply to throw in the proverbial towel while gladly giving it all up.

Maybe it’s seasonal…
What with these long cold winters of shortened days, limited light, constant gray, heavy clouds, cold rains, blanketing snow and a never ending feeling as if one can never get warm.

Maybe its the long hot summers of endless days, excessive heat, dry barren ground that becomes brittle to the touch..leaving one and all the only option of slowing down to a crawl in order to preserve energy while hoping to sweat a little less while praying for a cooling breeze to quench the fire .

Maybe life has simply dealt a wicked hand.
Tragedy has struck,
illness prevails,
and loss is paramount.

Or maybe it’s as if one has been left to simply bam ones head against a wall…as in the wall isn’t budging and neither are we. Frustration has taken hold and we are stuck in our dead-end tract of never-ending madness.

Whatever the reason, life is…
hard and difficult,
frustrating and tiresome,
sad and often unbearable…

I was offered some wise counsel yesterday from a dear friend—which I hope he won’t mind that I now share…
In our conversation my friend offered up an interesting perspective as to when we find ourselves in the midst of struggle and suffering…

“sometimes its better to go back to the last place you encountered God in a mighty way
in your life and use it as a marker….
When Moses parted the red sea and the children of Israel crossed over, the first thing they did was build a stone altar there and gave thanks to God for their deliverance…
So it is with us….
When God does something in our lives and we know it was Him, it is a marker…
A faith stone that repairs our hope in troubled times.
It is good to remember that place and a good starting point to carry on….”

For me that moment, that mile marker , when I knew that I had encountered the Omnipotent I AM, was during my fall trip to Ireland…I think we all have a myriad of moments throughout our lives, but for whatever reason we may simply miss the significance, write it off as mere happenstance, or we may have felt so dreadfully barren for so very long that perhaps it feels as if it were the only real true encounter we have ever experienced….

So my marker, my road of Damascus moment, was one September evening in Ireland.

Yet to literally re-vist that very moment in order to restudy, review, re-live that exact moment in time is impossible, impractical and far from feasible…

It is impossible for me to fly back over, gather those 3 particular friends together again on that lone September evening, at that exact restaurant table up in County Donegal…it is impossible for me to have that exact same conversation which lead to the words being spoken that shot into my mind and heart like a hot arrow piercing my very soul…unleashing the overwhelming sensation that time was standing still and I was suddenly alone with God.

It was all of a second, maybe two, for those words to be uttered and in turn to be heard…
however it seemed much longer as each word reverberated throughout my entire being…

Whereas I may not be able to actually re-live that amazing turning point, it’s not impossible to recall those three life changing words….
“Be at peace…”
“Be at peace with your God”….

Yet it was the first three words of that simple sentence that knocked me and my current world upside down.
Yet…the words were not for that night…not then…

Those simple words which were offered over dinner were not intended for that moment…not for a moment that was indeed peaceful as four friends enjoyed a good meal and drink, with good conversation in an ideal setting.
For that particular moment was of peace itself…

It was to be later when I would need to revisit those words.

As I have needed to do so this very week.
As well as last week and mostly likely next week and the many weeks which lie ahead.
Life is that way.
Life has a way of sucking out the very life of one’s being.
It can be hard.
It can also be joyous as well…
yet frustratingly those joyous times are often forgotten as one is wading through the hard with the muck of madness clinging to one’s boots.

So yes… it behooves me to remember my marker.

Three words….

Be at peace….

Thank you my friend for reminding me to find my marker, my faith stone and to return to that place where God had made His presence known….

Praise the Lord and pass the Chocolate. . .

“It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.”
Victor Hugo

IMG_1437
(blooming beauty coneflowers / Julie Cook / 2015)

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. . .!!!
That’s me bursting into song. . .
And for whatever reason, whenever I’m heard to mutter the phrase “Praise the Lord” it is instinctively followed with another phrase. . . “pass the ammunition. . .
Which, I might add, is actually the lyrics to a real song—so don’t think I’m daft or crazy.

Praise the Lord And Pass The Ammunition was a song written in 1942 in response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. . .now as to why that phrase flows forth as part of my singing repertoire, I couldn’t say- – -maybe it’s because of some sort of deep-seated Broadwayesque hidden desire on my part—or maybe it’s more aptly because I am now very tried and perhaps a bit slap happy. . . either way, I’m bursting forth in song as well as praise. . .

Dad came through the anesthesia like a champ.
For a shriveled up 87 year old, pale, bone thin individual, Dad is like the energizer bunny who just keeps taking licking after licking but keeps on thankfully ticking!
Inflammation and colitis sure beats what it was thought to have been!!

He’s barely eaten in 3 weeks. No sustenance nor nourishment to speak of nor nutriments staying in.
Weak and frail has been the name of the game.

After waking up, with the doctor telling him there is no cancer, Dad immediately wants to know what he can and can’t eat. He keys in on the doctor saying, ” Well I don’t think we need to starve him. . .”

Fast forward to our trek back home.

“Dad, would you like for me to stop by Chick-fil-A so I can order you a little bowl of their chicken noodle soup?”
This on a day that it’s 91 degrees outside.
“Well, that sounds good, but I’d really rather have one of their chocolate brownies”

“DAD, YOU CAN’T EAT CHOCOLATE BROWNIES, NOT YET!”
I practically scream as I then rationally try explaining that he’s barely eaten anything in 3 weeks and that his guts are still irritated and inflamed—he needs to go slow as he now needs meds to help bring a healing. . . needing to gradually build back up to eating “real” food.
Chicken noodle soup is a good start. . .

“Well”, Dad counters. . .”I’d still prefer a chocolate brownie—they’ll keep. . .just get me one for later”
Knowing good and well that his idea of later is in later this evening when he knows I’m good and gone, headed back out of town. . .I do not order the brownie. . .”Maybe for Father’s Day you can have chocolate. . .” I counter, much to his chagrin. . .

Yet despite ailments and chocolate requests, I want to offer my heartfelt “thank you” to each of you for your good wishes, thoughts, love and prayers.
Hopefully the meds will bring a healing and he’ll slowly get to add back real food, gain some strength and get back to what he enjoys most in life. . .sitting in his chair, watching Buck Rogers (yep, they still replay the 1930’s childhood favorite) all while eating, noshing, snacking and savoring on all things chocolate. . .
Praise the Lord indeed!!!

An overdue thank you to P.O.W. Lt. Col. James Young

DSCN1248

I am a tail-end baby boomer. Seems as if most people 45 and up equate their existence with being some sort of post war child…. be it WWII, Korea- as in my case, or Vietnam. An entire new generation will, no doubt, look to Desert Storm and the continued “wars” on terror as defining birthing moments of their own.

I grew up in the shadow of a deepening Cold War which helped to spawn the Korean War—oh, let’s not forget to call it by it’s politically correct name shall we…”Police Action”…hummm…a war is a war is a war…. no matter how you try to paint it, but there I go digressing…
Which then spawned the Vietnam War; oh pardon me, Vietnam Conflict…and so forth and so on…

When I was in the 6th grade, it became a popular trend for us (as I suspect it was for the adults) to all buy and wear POW bracelets. The one pictured above is mine, the one I wore for almost two years—never taking it off. If I remember correctly, one could pay $3.00 (I found the receipt for my bracelet in the box mementos…it was $2.75) to whom and where the money went evades this memory of mine—- in return you would receive a stainless steel “bracelet” / band engraved with the name of a serviceman who was currently being held captive by the North Vietnamese. You might have received the name of a POW or the name of a serviceman who was currently MIA / missing in action. It was just kind of the luck of the draw as to the serviceman’s name, rank and branch of service you received.

I received the bracelet of a Lt. Col. James Young who had been a prisoner since 1966, taken captive just two days following the 4th of July—already imprisoned 6 years when I received his bracelet. To me and my young mind, the best way to comprehend that length of time was to think of how many Christmases he must have missed being from his family…. which was something, to me, absolutely inconceivable—a true affront to all I considered sacred—Christmas with your family. How dare they keep our American soldiers like that!! It truly struck a chord deep in my young impressionable heart.

Every night, for what seemed most of my young life and of the memory of that time, as we ate supper, we watched a small black and white television set perched in our kitchen of the nightly news conducted by the deans of nightly news, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. Those were the days of real news and real reporting…none of this stuff of today’s biased argumentative dribble passed off as news—no hokey sappy feel good “anchors” who seem more concerned with lifestyle choices, entertainment and droll government bickering than what truly constitutes real news. It was delivered professionally and basically unemotionally. Eric Severid or Charles Karualt would report from Vietnam.

The journalist would give the number tally of the day. Staggering numbers, unheard of numbers, the numbers listing each day’s deaths, those taken prisoner, those simply missing—ours, theirs, both. By the time I was in the 7th grade the newspapers were running the lists of names of those killed, wounded, or missing. Each day of our 7th grade year we would all scan the newspaper in search of word of our “soldier, airman, marine or sailor”—I suppose our teacher saw this as what is known as a “real teaching moment” something far more lasting than the lesson at hand, as she allowed us the time to scour a paper, to hope and perhaps even mourn.

I can remember very clearly, as if I am back in that classroom standing over the desk pouring over the paper, the day my friend found the name of her “soldier” on the list of those declared deceased by our government. We were all of the age of 11 and 12 and yet we felt a tremendous burden—a heavy sadness—rooting and cheering for men we had never met and most likely would never know personally, and yet how devastating it was to “lose” them to a death that was so foreign to us– as this drama played out so very far away from our sheltered world. The bracelet would then come off.

I also remember most vividly the day it was announced that this “war” was declared “over” and a peace accord was being signed by both our country’s two governments. On Valentines Day, most appropriately, 1973 the many American prisoners, many wounded and on stretchers, would slowly begin to transition from captivity to freedom, being loaded in batches of approximately 40 or so onto air force transport planes which were to carry them all, finally, home. Seven years just past the first day he was taken prisoner, Lt. Col. James Young headed home.

Warm tears are welling up in my eyes as I type this recalling, all these many years later, these most heartening of events. The bitter sweetness of the moment still very real, very palpable, very emotional. Coming home.

Our teacher checked out a television from the library, the ones perched on top of carts pushed to the room by the boys who volunteered to go get the carts long before this practice was deemed unsafe. She set the cart in the front of the room so we could all see the special news reports of those first prisoners landing at Clarke Air Force Base. I can still see, in my mind’s eye, Capt. Jeremiah A. Denton, Jr., the first POW to disembark the plane—his wife and daughter running, arms outstretched, to embrace him as he made his way down the ramp–now home on American Soil.

My POW, Lt. Col. Young, also came home—home to his family in Hollywood, Florida. Once he had returned, I wrote to Lt. Col. Young and his family. I can’t remember how I found his address. I in turn received two letters complete with pictures of Lt. Col. Young and his lovely family. His eldest daughter, Carrie, who was in her early 20’s when her dad finally returned home—she was but my age (at the time) when he was captured. She asked if I could have my name engraved on the bracelet that I had worn those two years, sending it to them as they were going to make a plaque of his bracelets.

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My mom took me to a jewelry store where I had my name engraved besides the name of Lt. Col. Young. I placed the bracelet in a zip-lock bag, writing one more letter. However at the last minute, I just couldn’t mail it. Something inside my young heart wanted to hold on to this tangible reminder of what this war had meant to me—a young 7th grade girl in Georgia.

All these many years later, I still have the bracelet, always knowing where it is. I recently did a Google search, attempting to discover where Lt. Col James Young was now—Sadly I learned that he had passed away a few years ago, a victim of Alzheimer’s disease. A tortured prisoner of war, Lt. Col. James Young had seven years of his life stolen, only to lose his final battle to a cruel and unseen enemy. Life never seems quite fair.

On this 4th of July, as this country of ours has troops spread out all over this globe, risking everything they have to protect, defend and serve each of us here back home…as we enjoy a slice of watermelon, swimming or watching baseball, spending time with our families, enjoying the fireworks this evening—may we all give pause this day in order to say a silent prayer for their safety, for the comfort of their families and a grateful thanks to all the veterans, past and present, who have sacrificed so very much for the one important thing that makes us who we are—our Liberty.

Thank you Lt. Colonel James Young.

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