CLOVIS

Posted on May 28, 2018 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

An old, slender gentleman with a bent knee and a cane had slowly been working around the stations of the gym and now stood beside me. He wore the cap of a marine.

“Sir, I see you had a marine cap. Have you served our country?”

“I was a Marine from 1942 to 44.”

“Sir, that would put you in your 90’s.”

I suddenly found myself on holy ground, there beside the latt machine.

“I’m 95. I was at Okinawa.”

“There must have been half a million men fighting there.”

“I also fought at Guadalcanal and was part of the occupation in Japan.”

I was overcome with a sense of homage and reverence.

“Thank you, for your service, Sir.” There were 16 million men in boots during that war. Now less than a million remain.”

“Is that right – less than a million?”

“Yes Sir.”  I have a high regard for that generation, the generation of my father and uncles.”

He told me how he had gained a purple heart and other metals, with no trace of boasting, but matter-of-fact innocence. His knee had been broken in a bayonet battle when a man fell across it. He had two surgeries in a battlefield tent. He had lived, but seen men he knew have their heads blown off.

Here was a treasury of story, with so few still living to tell it, and I had stumbled on it!  I felt unworthy as the smoke of holiness filled this uncommon chapel. This man had truly seen, “active duty.” 200,000 died at the battle of Okinawa. It was the bloodiest we saw during the war. 26,000 died at Guadalcanal. And Clovis walked, or at least hobbled, away alive.

Most of the WWII generation has gone to their reward. There are just a few stragglers, a remnant, left on this half of eternity. Just a handful who can report first-hand the monumental battle against global tyranny. Sixty million casualties world-wide were part of that conflagration. So much of our security and prosperity comes from that story!

I told the Being standing before me – perhaps an angelic apparition, “The generations that follow you appreciate what you have done for us.” As I said it I hoped that it was true. But I know how history and its significance fades into the oblivion of cultural forgetfulness. In fact, I had almost forgotten, at least in part to be thankful for my father’s generation.

Lord help us remember and appreciate the gift given us, the legacy of a fading, great generation.

Steven C Johnson

A post script: Listen to John William’s “Hymn to the Fallen.” Moving!

https://www.google.com/search?q=youtube+hymn+to+the+fallen&rlz=1C1CHZL_enUS721US721&oq=youtube+hymn+to+the+falle&aqs=chrome.0.0j69i57j0l4.7407j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

 

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