JTC: Christmas Lessons from WW II

fallen heroes

Our fallen Heroes

Yesterday was a snow day.   Whenever I get a snow day I deal with small amounts of guilt as I know there are MANY people who do not get to enjoy this luxury.  They don’t have bosses to say, “Stay home, be safe and warm!”  In this I am so blessed.

So I was home getting ready for this weekend’s Santa’s Workshop themed Christmas party.  In the midst of red and white paint, glitter, and construction paper I took a break.  I continued reading a book that has been “in process” for about a month titled: Unbroken.  The pages of this book convey the story of an amazing man: Louis Zamperini.  As WW II took the world by storm an Olympic athlete’s hopes and dreams of winning a medal in the 1940 Olympics were put on hold.  Not only were his dreams of running put on hold, he was drafted.  Louis’s life prior to the War was remarkable, but after being drafted it became a death defying feat.  A miracle really.  Louis became a bombardier on a B-24.  Then he became a victim of a search and rescue mission gone wrong.  He found himself with two other men in a raft, in the middle of the ocean, circled by sharks non-stop for 46 days. Eating only birds that would land on them, and using the bird remains for bait.  One man died.  Louis and the pilot were picked up by the Japanese.  His story continues in several POW camps and the severe and brutal treatment he endured in those unimaginable places.

WWII

Soldiers enjoying Christmas overseas

As I continued reading his story yesterday my mind wandered. I thought about the world during WW II and what the Christmases of those who lived must have looked like.  Some had loved ones away, some missing, some just receiving news that their loved one, or loved ones, were killed in action.  Receiving medals of honor in lieu of their son, husband, brother, father… My heart sank.  Not only were they unable, because of shortages, to rush off and purchase presents, their hearts were thousands of miles away or 6 feet under.  Sometimes farther under if their soldier was lost at sea.  The suffering was not just in those POW camps, but in the homes spread across the United States.  Christmases must have been bleak and stressful.

During this Christmas season, this story gave me reason for pause.  For gratitude.  It put life into perspective.  It made me realize I have never really known pain, hunger, sacrifice, or the depths of a human soul.  A souls ability to survive SO much on sheer will power is awe inspiring.  That from willpower, grit, and determination, their unwavering, unbroken spirits, we are able to enjoy a bountiful Christmas and the freedom to live.  And not to just LIVE, but to flourish in peace during this season.  Their spent blood purchased us Holiday freedom.  This Christmas I am reminded of the thousands of men and women today that are still far from home.  The dangers that they face, and the families here who will have empty seats at their dinner tables.  We can shop, decorate, and celebrate without fear because these heroes continue to serve us today.

louis

Louis Zamperini, after a flight that almost killed him.

So this Christmas, hold your loved ones a little closer, and amid all the hustle and bustle, make sure you take time to pray for those not at home.  And if you see a soldier that is State side, please, make sure that you say thank you.

Wishing you all the best this season.

WV

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