Remembrance Day is special to me, as it is is to honour and remember all those who have and do serve. I honour today one special serviceman I grew up with when I was young. When I was going to school when the the war broke out, we had a friend who was old enough to join in the service. He was from a fairly well to do family. He was a teenager but wasn’t happy with life too much. Anyway he went to the big city one day and joined the air force. They trained him for a while in the air force as a tail gunner in a bomber plane. A tail gunner’s job was to sit in the back turret with a machine gun. There was no passage from the back of the plane where the turret was, to the front where the pilot was. So he was alone in there, locked in. When they were flying over Germany during the war, they had to crash land into a field. When they crash-landed, the turret part separated from the rest of the plane, and my friend was left alone in the field about a mile from the pilot, standing by the turret himself, alone. So later on, when he was telling us the story, the worst two things that bothered him during the war were – first, there were woman working in the field with pitchforks, I guess all the men were in the army in Germany and the women were left working the fields, so the ladies held him prisoner at bay with their pitchforks in the field, until the German army came to pick him up. He said he was so relieved when he saw the German guards and soldiers come with the jeep and guns. They had seen the plane crash, and they came to pick him up. He felt safer with them, rather than being alone with the workers with pitchforks! He told us he was never so scared in his life, and he was actually relieved to go be a prisoner when the guards took him away to prison. The second thing that bothered my friend the most, while he was a prisoner for 5 years during the war, was that there was no soap! So he came home after 5 years in Germany being a POW and he was a very grateful man, that he had all the soap he could use! This veteran never fired a shot, never hurt anyone, but said he really learned a lesson during serving: that Life is all about being grateful, for even a bar of soap, which he didn’t have for five years! The lesson my friend taught us was to be grateful to God for whatever you have. I was so impressed with this veteran, that he was so grateful and appreciative for everything in his life, even with all the things he went through. As a young man myself, I was impressed with the lesson this fellow shared and the gratefulness he had and I learned from that! I have never forgotten him. He had a true, grateful heart all the rest of his life. He passed away peacefully in his 90s living a long, happy life.
We are grateful today for all our veterans, past and present. We thank God for their commitment and their services that brings us into a country of freedom.
God bless you all this weekend.