With age comes wisdom…Or so it should be. I don’t know how I got to be this old without a deep appreciation of our veterans. Oh, sure I “honored” them with thank yous and a quick prayer but didn’t deeply appreciate them until recently. No one in my family was ever in the military. I have a brother-in- law that worked for the Diplomatic service, and now a policeman, but not regular military.
A few years ago, I met a World War 2 veteran. He has become a celebrity of sorts in our community. He’s a sweet old gentleman, who was dearly devoted to his late wife. He told me some of his background and stories from the war. I had never personally known anyone who served in World War 2, let alone under General Patton. I started paying closer attention to old war movies, especially the movie “Patton” and more recently, “Ike: Countdown to D-Day.”
I’m a hard-working business entrepreneur, who works 6 days a week. Sunday is for God and rest. My favorite rest is watching old movies. I watch old war related movies with new interest. 2 movies that recently aired on TCM were “Mrs. Miniver” and “The White Cliffs of Dover.” Both movies about World War 2 and England. It was in watching “The White Cliffs of Dover” that I literally got goose bumps hearing American patriotic marching songs. (Songs I had learned as a child in public school that we practiced in music class to sing for Veteran’s Day assemblies.) Watching this movie, my heart filled with pride to be an American. Then, slowly, my heart sunk as I reflected on our current country and its leaders, and my eyes filled with tears.
Americans were portrayed as strong, independent, determined people that could be counted on when the world was in trouble. It was those selfless men and women who offered their lives to give us that reputation. My appreciation of those people deepened with each moment of pride I took for our country. A country I grew up in, taking for granted my freedoms.
I’ve seen a lot in over half a century, and often reflect on the years my parents and grandparents knew. It’s been over a hundred years since Armistice Day and the end of World War 1. The “White Cliffs of Dover,”’ gave an overview of the personal toll war took on an English family in the 2 World Wars. Perhaps it is because I grieve for our country and what it has become in recent years, but especially the last 2, that these old movies hit me so hard. I wonder how much longer God can put up with us.
The closing scene to “White Cliffs” was of the American born mother who was with her English born son while he died in a hospital in England. American troops were marching past the hospital, playing American patriotic songs. She describes the scene she sees from her son’s hospital window to him as he lays dying in bed, and says “Yes John, I see them, Your people, and my people. Only their uniforms are different. How well they march, John. How well they march together.” Then her son told his mother of an American soldier who had died next to him on a beach in France. The American’s last words to him (and the final words to the movie) were, “God will never forgive us if we breach faith again.”