The Soldier and the Spider

Photo Credit: Petra via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Petra via CC Flickr

This is a re-post of an article that I put up on my blog a while ago. I hope that it encourages and warms your heart like it did mine!!

During World War II, a US Marine was separated from his unit on a Pacific island. The fighting had been intense, and in the smoke and the crossfire, he had lost touch with his comrades.

Alone in the jungle, he could hear enemy soldiers coming in his direction. Scrambling for cover, he found his way up a high ridge to several small caves in the rock. Quickly he crawled inside one of the caves. Although safe for the moment, he realized that once the enemy soldiers looking for him swept up the ridge, they would quickly search all the caves and he would be killed. As he waited, he prayed, “Lord, if it be your will, please protect me. Whatever your will though, I love you and trust you. Amen.”

After praying, he lay quietly listening to the enemy begin to draw close. He thought, “Well, I guess the Lord isn’t going to help me out of this one.”

Just then he saw a spider begin to build a web over the front of his cave. As he watched, listening to the enemy searching for him all the while, the spider layered strand after strand of web across the opening of the cave.

“Hah” he thought, “what I need is a brick wall and what the Lord has sent me is a spider web. God does have a sense of humor.”

As the enemy drew closer he watched from the darkness of his hideout and could see them searching one cave after another. As they came to his, he got ready to make his last stand. To his amazement, however, after glancing in the direction of his cave, they moved on.

Suddenly, he realized that with the spider web over the entrance, his cave looked as if no one had entered it for quite a while.

“Lord, forgive me,” prayed the young man, “I had forgotten that in you a spider’s web is stronger than a brick wall.”

We all face times of great trouble. When we do, it is so easy to forget the victories that God would work in our lives, sometimes in the most surprising ways.

As the great leader, Nehemiah, reminded the people of Israel when they faced the task of rebuilding Jerusalem, “In God we will have success!” [Nehemiah 2:20]

Remember: Whatever is happening in your life, with God, a mere spider’s web can become a brick wall of protection. Trust and believe that He is with you always. Just ask for his help and you will see His great power and love for you.




A Sad Face of War: Pictures That Speak Volumes #64

Photo Credit: Unknown
Photo Credit: Unknown

War and conflict is a horrible and terrible thing. It not only has a devastating affect of thousands upon thousands of soldiers but its poisonous tentacles also reach out and touches the lives on hundreds of thousands…sometimes millions…of families and civilians.

Such is the story with today’s picture. This beautiful little girls was left homeless in the 1940’s when her London home was bombed by the Germans. The only thing she had left in the whole world and the only comfort that she could find was her toy doll.

It simply shows us that war truly is hell.

Why not take some time today to lend someone a smile or a word of encouragement and try to uplift a person who mat be suffering with their own little battles and wars.

A Wonderful Glimpse Into Yesteryear

Photo Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives via CC Flickr

A short time ago, a small group of World War 2 veterans were quietly waiting for their flight at Reagan International Airport, when something magical took place.

Someone decided to play some old-time music from the 1940’s, and suddenly, as if a vail was lifted and a curtain pulled back, the solders instantly reverted back to a time when they were young, agile and filled with life.

The following video shows us this unique transformation in a beautiful and wonderful way and the tremendous power of music.


The American Flag: 13 Folds of Honor

Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Beverly & Pack via CC Flickr

The history, rituals, and the customs of the United States Military has always fascinated and intrigues me. I hold in highest esteem and respect, all people who has sacrificed their time and/or their lives for their country.

A military tradition that has always been deeply moving to me, is watching the person of a fallen spouse or child, receive the folded American flag during a funeral ceremony.

I often wondered the story behind the folded flag. Why is it folded in that particular manner? What does each fold represent? What is the history behind it?

I recently read a short article on the internet site, Folds of Honor, which answered my questions. It is for this reason that I thought that this would be a great article to share with you. I hope that this story will enlighten and encourage your heart as much as it did mine!


The folded flag has long been a dual symbol of sacrifice and the cost of freedom as well as hope and admiration for those defending our country. As we transition into using the folded American flag as the Folds of Honor logo, please take a moment to read what each of these folds represent:

The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

The fourth fold represents our weaker nature; as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace, as well as in times of war, for His divine guidance.

The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.

The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.

The 10th fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.

The 11th fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The 12th fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.

When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it has the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under Gen. George Washington and the sailors and Marines who served under Capt. John Paul Jones and were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the U.S. Armed Forces, preserving for us the rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy today.


Fascinating Facts About The Day That Will Live In Infamy

Photo Credit: via WikiMedia
Photo Credit: via WikiMedia

Today, December 7, 2014, is the 73rd Anniversary of the day which President Franklin Roosevelt declared, “a day that will live in infamy”, the bombing of Pearl Harbor. During that fateful day, more than 2,300 people were killed and over another 1,100 individuals were wounded. One day later, the United States declared war on Japan. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on America…placing America right in the middle of World War 2.

I decided to do something a little different today and list some interesting and fascinating facts about this tragic day. I am sure that you will learn some new details that will present you some further insight and give you a deeper appreciation of what our military personnel faced that day.


The Japanese reportedly had intended to declare war prior to the attack. However, the message never got to the President.*

The entire attack lasted just under two hours, 110 minutes.

The Japanese also used submarines, including smaller ones called midget submarines, in the attack.*

The Japanese only lost 64 people that day.

When the USS Arizona was destroyed, it took with it, the lives of 1,177 servicemen.

The reason for choosing the attack on a Sunday morning was because the Japanese felt that Americans would be less alert on a weekend. Many U.S. servicemen were having their morning breakfast when the Japanese aircraft hit the U.S. Naval base. **

Eighteen ships, including five battleships, were sunk and 188 aircraft were destroyed while another 159 others damaged. The Japanese only lost 29 aircraft, five midget submarines and just 64 men.***

Although the Japanese aerial attack was very successful, their submarines failed to finish off any wounded ship inside the harbor.#

A U.S. army private who noticed the large flight of planes on his radar screen was told to ignore them because a flight of B-17’s from the continental US was expected at the time.#

Twenty-three sets of brothers died aboard the USS Arizona.##

The USS Arizona’s entire band was lost in the attack. It is the only time in American history that an entire military band had died in battle.##

The USS Arizona, the division 1 battleship docked at Pearl Harbor, is still leaking fuel. The ship had filled up her massive 1.5 million gallon tank the day before the attack. While much of the fuel was burned up in fires from the attack, experts say as much as 9 quarts leaks into the water daily. ###

Lt. Annie Fox was the first woman to receive a Purple Heart for being wounded in action and her leadership during the attack.###



**Facts –

*** –

# – –

### –




Pictures That Speak Volumes #48

Photo Credit: Claude P. Dettloff
Photo Credit: Claude P. Dettloff

This picture called, “Wait For Me Daddy” was taken by photographer, Claude P. Dettloff during World War 2. The kid was seen running away from his mother to his father, Private Jack Bernard. This photo was made to help raise money for war bonding.


The Flag That Doesn’t Fly

Field1Between the fields where the flag is planted, there are 9+ miles of flower fields
that go all the way to the ocean. The flowers are grown by seed companies.
It’s a beautiful place, close to Vandenberg AFB.
Check out the dimensions of the flag…
The Floral Flag is 740 feet long and 390 feet wide and maintains the proper Flag dimensions, as
described in Executive Order #10834.
This Flag is 6.65 acres and is the first Floral Flag to be planted with 5 pointed Stars, comprised of White
Each Star is 24 feet in diameter, each Stripe is 30 feet wide.
This Flag is estimated to contain more than 400,000 Larkspur plants with 4-5 flower stems each, for a total of more than 2 million flowers.
For our soldiers….
Please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our servicemen. 

Soldiers Remembrances of D-Day

Photo Credit:  Joint Staff Public Affairs via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Joint Staff Public Affairs via CC Flickr

I recently read an article written by Kim Willsher on TheGuardian,com in which she told many stories of servicemen that participated in D-Day and World War 2. I thought that it would be a great share with all of you. I hope that you would take the time to remember these people and the things that they experienced during this awful time of war.


They stood to attention as straight as their creaking backs would allow and saluted briskly as a lone bugler high up on the old Pegasus Bridge played the Last Post. A minute’s silence followed; the men bowed their heads, dabbed their eyes and remembered the fallen.

Some made one last heroic effort to rise from their wheelchairs, others leaned on sticks or the arms of relatives and friends. Medals glinted in the morning sunshine; rows and rows of them, pinned to still-proud chests.

It may be 70 years on, but the camaraderie remains strong. The old soldiers addressed each other as “brother” and with a valiant slap on the back, as if seven decades had not passed. There were shared nods of recognition between veterans in black and wine-coloured berets, and serving military officers who share the common bond of conflict. Schoolchildren who were hearing about history first hand were hanging on every word.

“One of the reasons it’s wonderful to be here is because everyone is interested in you,” said Neville Foote, 94. “Back home, nobody is interested in us. We’re just old people. I am sometimes asked to go to schools to talk, but the children don’t know about the war and don’t want to know.”

Foote, from Tottington in Lancashire, has no shortage of stories to tell. He arrived in Normandy on D-day on Juno beach with the 51st Highland Division of the Scottish Horse Regiment and spent the rest of the war moving across Europe. He was with the Allied forces that relieved the Bergen-Belsen Nazi concentration camp in 1945.

Foote was just 23 when he jumped off the landing craft along with Canadian troops from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders and ran on to the French beach “at tea time … don’t ask when that was because we didn’t knowwhat day it was let alone the time,” he says.

“I remember every detail of the landing even now. It was a terrifying experience,” he adds. “We just kept moving. It was the same after D-day, we kept moving across Europe fighting all the way.”

At one point crossing the Rhine, the troop carrier Foote was in hit a mine, killing the man sitting next to him. The survivors had to scoop up the dead man’s remains and carry on. It is hardly surprising that for many decades, the men who returned from D-day and the battle to liberate France, did not talk about their experiences.

“So many were lost. I’m fine about coming back, but certain parts are hard. When you go to the graves and see your mates, just 22 or 23 who never made it, you just feel it here,” as he taps his chest, his eyes fill with tears.

“Still, I like to think I made up for them in life.”

The taking of the bridge in the village of Bénouville, and a second bridge in nearby Ranville, was the first operation of D-day. Troops of the 6th Airborne Parachute Regiment, led by Major John Howard of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, landed at 00.16am in six Horsa gliders and neutralised the two bridges held by German forces in ten minutes, with the loss of only two lives.

Operation Deadstick, as it was known, was the start of the Longest Day. Howard, who died in 1999 aged 86, was later played by actor Richard Todd – himself a D-day parachute veteran – in the Hollywood film of the Allied landings. Howard received a Distinguished Service Order and a Croix de Guerre.

On Thursday, Howard’s daughter Penny Bates laid a wreath at Bénouville, where plaques, monuments, a large sculpture the Avenue de Major Howard, are testimony to the heroism of him and his men.

“I’m here to remember my father and his men and I’m very proud to pay my respects. I have come back here many, many times and it is always an honor and always very emotional and moving. Of course to me he was a hero, but then he was my father.”

Photo Credit: John W. Schulze via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: John W. Schulze via CC Flickr

Joan Woods, whose husband Lt Corp Tom Packwood was in the same glider as Howard, buried her husband’s ashes near Pegasus Bridge after he died eight years ago. “Whenever we traveled on the continent, he always insisted on coming here to pay tribute to friends buried there. He never talked about what happened until the 40th anniversary when he met other veterans here. Only then did he tell me what happened.

“Of course, by then they all had different versions of what had happened because so many years had passed, so they couldn’t agree.”

She added: “Pegasus Bridge defined his life, but like many of the men, my husband’s attitude was that they were trained to do a job and they just got on and did it well.”

After a renovated Centaur tank, found near Pegasus Bridge and one of only five remaining, was inaugurated, the Last Post, Reveille and the Canadian, British and French national anthems were played. Veterans cheered as a dozen second world war planes, including an old Lancaster bomber, flew past.

A group of 12-year-old French schoolchildren from nearby Troarn – which was heavily bombed by the Allies and liberated more than two months after D-day – wore red T-shirts saying: “I am a Child of Freedom. Merci Dear Veteran.”

The youngsters clustered around the old soldiers, listening to their stories and asking questions. Their teacher Jean-Pascal Auvray said: “We brought them here so they can be witnesses to this later. Today they are 12 years old, but when they have their own children and grandchildren, they will remember coming here and meeting the veterans. They will have a direct line with the history.”

Testimonies from Pegasus Bridge

Walter James Baker, 92, from Blackpool

Baker landed on Omaha beach with the Canadian Régiment de la Chaudiere – the only French-Canadian regiment to participate in Operation Overlord. He helped to train the 1st American Infantry Division.

“You just did what you had to do. You didn’t stop to think about being brave, because you were so bloody terrified. I was with boys who were 17, but who would never see their 18th birthday. They were the brave ones, not me. I was older, I learned my bravery from them. They faced the machine guns and opened their shirts. We owe a lot to them.

Sgt Steve Garrard, 91, from Bude, Cornwall, glider pilot

“It’s the first time I have come back. It means a hell of a lot to do this. It’s still very vivid even though many years have passed. I have forgotten many things in between, but not here. The whole D-day operation was so climatic. It was my birthday on June 7th, and I spent it fighting Germans.”

Joe Bruhl, 36, from Missouri

Based with the US army in Italy, Bruhl has served in Africa and Afghanistan.

“I wanted to come here just to talk to these guys, hear the stories of those who were here, who took part in the operation. It is probably the most humbling experience of my life. My grandfather was in the navy in command and control on D-day off Omaha beach and my great uncle was wounded on Utah beach, so there is a family interest.”

John Dennett, 89, from Wallasey, Liverpool

Dennet, a sailor on landing craft depositing troops on Sword Beach, said: “We went back and forth ferrying men onto the beach. The most amazing thing was the sheer volume of ships and boats. You couldn’t see the water there were so many. I have come back to remember them. I was 19 at the time. I go to the cemeteries and see the graves of the 19 and 20-year-olds and I think, that could have been me. You have to remember, the young have to remember. That’s why I visit schools.”

Titus Mills, headmaster of Walhampton School in the New Forest

Mills was at Pegasus Bridge with his son Raffi, 10, carrying a placard saying: “The Young Are Grateful”. “I hardly have the words necessary to explain why it’s important for children to know about this. This is probably the final year the men will come back and I feel it’s enormously important for the younger generation to be able to connect with this period of history and appreciate what these fine old men and women went through. They are living history.”

Raffi said: “It’s really interesting listening to the stories of the war and definitely better than reading it in history books.”

Robert Sullivan, 91, of 3 Para Squadron

Sullivan parachuted into France at 1.30am on the morning of the 6th. His unit had instructions to blow up a bridge at Dives. “Like many others, I missed the landing area. Fortunately I landed. Many of the others drowned. We had to make our way to the bridge. I got there at 9am and it had been partially destroyed, but not completely. So we blew it up. Then we came under heavy fire from the Germans. Coming back, I think that unlike my colleagues, I had the chance to live my life, have my family, and they did not. That’s the main thing I think.”

Let Us Never Forget!


Incredible Facts of D-Day

Photo Credit: Expert Infantry via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Expert Infantry via CC Flickr

This year, June 6, 2014, marks the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. The site, explains D-Day in a short but descriptive way: “On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which, “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Continental Europe. The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 Soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolph Hitler’s crack troops.”

World War 2 and D-Day has always been intriguing to me, so I decided to look around the web and collect some interesting and fascinating details about this historic day. In the list below, next to each fact that I posted, I listed the name of the website in which I found the specific fact. So, without further ado, here we go…


The largest seaborne invasion in history – CNN

The invasion’s secret code name was Operation Overlord. – CNN

Condoms were issued to soldiers – most were used for covering the end of their rifles to keep them dry. –

Although June 6 is often called D-Day, D-Day is also a generic military term that stands for the day, D, of any major attack. –

The overall military operation was called “Operation Overlord”. The actual landings at Normandy were called “Operation Neptune” –

The Allies created a ruse to convince the Germans that the invasion would take place at Pas de Calais instead of the Cotentin Peninsula. According to the U.S. Army, a dummy base was constructed out of plywood, and inflatable tanks were placed to create the illusion of a massive army division. –

The invasion location was cloaked in secrecy and rumors. Allied leaders were constantly trying  – soldiers knew the exact date, time, and location of the attack until the last minute. All training maps for troops had false names to keep the secret intact. –

The main reason for the secrecy was that the Germans had 55 divisions stationed in France, and the Allies could only bring in about eight divisions to attack on D-Day. –

Famous German General, Field Marshall Rommel, was nowhere near France on June 6. He was celebrating his wife’s birthday in Germany during the invasion. –

There were 6,939 naval ships deployed, holding 195,000 sailors. –

The flat-bottomed landing craft were originally designed to rescue flood victims on the Mississippi river in the US. –

The first two British soldiers that were killed on D-Day were Lt. Den Brotheridge of the 6th Airborne Division and Lance Corporal Fred Greehalgh. Brotheridge was shot in the neck while leading his platoon, and Greehalgh immediately drowned when he stepped out of Brotheridge’s glider. –

The first U.S. soldier that died on D-Day was twenty-eight year old Lt. Robert Mathias of the 82nd Airborne Division. He sustained a bullet wound in the chest right before he jumped out of his aircraft. He commanded his men to follow his lead as he jumped from the plane and died mid-air. –

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with over 160,000 troops landing on 6 June 1944 – and 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved. –

The landings took place along a 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. –

Approximately 10,000 allies were injured or killed. –

Between 4,000 and 9,000 German troops were killed – and it proved the pivotal moment of the war, in the allied forces’ favor. –

Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was asleep when word of the invasion arrived. No one dared wake him and it’s said vital time was lost in sending reinforcements. –


Let’s take some time during this time of year to thank our veterans for their honor, bravery and the sacrifices that they gave for the freedoms that we enjoy each day.


A Story of the Soldier and a Spider

Photo Credit: Petra via CC Flickr
Photo Credit: Petra via CC Flickr

During World War II, a US Marine was separated from his unit on a Pacific island. The fighting had been intense, and in the smoke and the crossfire, he had lost touch with his comrades.

Alone in the jungle, he could hear enemy soldiers coming in his direction. Scrambling for cover, he found his way up a high ridge to several small caves in the rock. Quickly he crawled inside one of the caves. Although safe for the moment, he realized that once the enemy soldiers looking for him swept up the ridge, they would quickly search all the caves and he would be killed. As he waited, he prayed, “Lord, if it be your will, please protect me. Whatever your will though, I love you and trust you. Amen.”

After praying, he lay quietly listening to the enemy begin to draw close. He thought, “Well, I guess the Lord isn’t going to help me out of this one.”

Just then he saw a spider begin to build a web over the front of his cave. As he watched, listening to the enemy searching for him all the while, the spider layered strand after strand of web across the opening of the cave.

“Hah” he thought, “what I need is a brick wall and what the Lord has sent me is a spider web. God does have a sense of humor.”

As the enemy drew closer he watched from the darkness of his hideout and could see them searching one cave after another. As they came to his, he got ready to make his last stand. To his amazement, however, after glancing in the direction of his cave, they moved on.

Suddenly, he realized that with the spider web over the entrance, his cave looked as if no one had entered it for quite a while.

“Lord, forgive me,” prayed the young man, “I had forgotten that in you a spider’s web is stronger than a brick wall.”

We all face times of great trouble. When we do, it is so easy to forget the victories that God would work in our lives, sometimes in the most surprising ways.

As the great leader, Nehemiah, reminded the people of Israel when they faced the task of rebuilding Jerusalem, “In God we will have success!” [Nehemiah 2:20]

Remember: Whatever is happening in your life, with God, a mere spider’s web can become a brick wall of protection. Trust and believe that He is with you always. Just ask for his help and you will see His great power and love for you.




Your Life Is No Longer Your Own (Tissues Required)

Photo Credit: Wikimedia
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Read an amazing account of incredible sacrifice during World War 2 involving simple towns people.

Around this time each year, Memorial Day, I am reminded of a story that I once heard. Though the exactness of it I cannot confirm, I am assured its basis is quite factual, and its message definitely deserves to be retold.

The story is of a man, Andrew, who was known all his life for selfless sacrifice and good works. He always stood in defense of the defenseless, and toiled without tiring, standing up for the downtrodden and underprivileged. As he grew old, and people tried to honor him for his well-lived life of service, he was reluctant to accept the praise and attention that his community desired to heap upon him. It was then, for the first time, that he told a story that had burned deep in his heart and was hard for him to relate.

Andrew was a young man, thirteen years old and living in Austria, when the Germans invaded. The Austrians, brave and proud, decided to fight back. In the town where Andrew lived, the men and teenage boys organized and destroyed a power plant that the Germans relied on to continue their war effort. The men and boys all knew this would cause great hardship on themselves as well, for they also relied on the power from the plant. But the thing they had not counted on was the swift and severe retribution that would come from the Nazi invaders.

The next morning, before the sun was even up, trucks rolled into town. Soon, the sound of marching soldiers was heard in the streets. The men and boys of the town, twelve years old and older, were ordered to the town square. Andrew found himself standing in a line with the other men and boys, still trying to wipe the sleep from his eyes.

The commanding officer berated them, and told them they were fools to think they could stand against the might of the German army. He told them they were nothing, and their minuscule efforts would not slow down the German war effort, but it would hurt them because a price was going to be paid for their rebellion. He then said that every 20th man in the line would be shot.

As each 20th man was pulled from the line and marched away, Andrew looked down the line and started counting. With horror, he realized that he stood in a 20th position. He trembled with fear as the soldiers moved closer and closer to him, and the shots started to ring out at the edge of town where the unfortunate men were being taken.

As the Germans continued to move down the line, Andrew could see others counting and their eyes turning to him with a look of pity and concern. Andrew found himself wanting to flee, but too frightened to move. Even if he tried to run, the soldiers on the trucks, with the mounted machine guns, would cut him down before he could get ten yards.

But then, in the instant that the last man before Andrew was pulled from the line, the Germans turned their eyes away, and Andrew felt a hand on his shoulder. The hand tightened quickly, and before he knew what had happened, he was jerked forcibly over one spot, and the old man who had been standing next to him moved swiftly to switch positions.

Andrew looked up at the silver haired man and the man smiled. Just before he was taken from the line and led away, the old man spoke quietly to Andrew. “Your life is no longer just your own. Live it for both of us.”
Andrew watched silently as the old man disappeared from view toward the edge of the village. His heart jumped as the shots sounded, shots that Andrew knew should have been his own. In that instant, tears flowing down his face, he determined he would indeed live his life for both of them. From that day he had tried to live so that the unknown old man would have felt his sacrifice was well repaid.

Each time I consider the flags flying by the many graves in the cemetery, thinking back on Andrew’s story, I realized that no one’s life belongs just to them. Each of us owes a debt to many who have paid prices through hardship, hard work, and even the sacrifice of their lives, from which we have benefited.

With the wind gently whipping the flags in the breeze, I, too, renewed my own dedication in how I live my life.
(Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at; or visit his website at



Every Flag Tells a Story At Mobile’s Historic Magnolia & National Cemeteries

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

The one thing I enjoy is looking for inspiring and heartwarming stories of all kinds of occasions, experiences and places around the world. Recently, I came across the following article, which, to me, was an interesting and heartwarming story of a national cemetery in Alabama. Since the story and the happenings in the cemetery take place only twice a year (Memorial Day and Veterans Day), I thought that it would be something nice to share with you as we celebrate Memorial Day!

The Avenue of Heroes at Magnolia Cemetery is one again festooned with American flags, thanks to family members who have donated service members’ casket flags. Flown twice a year, at Memorial Day and Veterans Day, the flags line the cemetery’s entrances at Ann Street and at Virginia Street.

The cemetery started the program with the first display of flags in 2007.

The Veterans Administration honors deceased veterans with a large, 6-foot-by-8-foot flag to drape over his or her casket at the funeral. Traditionally, the flag is folded and handed to the surviving spouse after the service. “Most people get one and think, ‘What do I do with this?'” said Tom McGehee, president of the Friends of Magnolia Cemetery. “Then they sit on a shelf or in a closet.”

After a flag is donated to the cemetery, it’s hung from a pole with an engraved plaque attached that includes the veteran’s name, rank, branch of service and war, if applicable, said Janet Savage, executive director of Magnolia Cemetery.

It takes two days for Mark Halseth, cemetery superintendent, to put up all the flags. As of today, 65 flags are flying at the cemetery. “The Internet is amazing,” said Savage, noting that 24 of the flags are from out of state from families who learned about the program online.

Savage’s own uncle’s flag is among those flying at Magnolia. “He was missing in action in World War II, and his flag had been in the closet for 60 years,” she said. “There are a lot of stories out there.”

“It really is a pretty sight on a breezy day,” said McGehee.

When the flags are taken down, they’re stored at the cemetery office until the next holiday. The Friends group even bought a dryer to completely dry the flags before they go into storage.

For more information about the Avenue of Heroes program, contact Janet Savage at (251) 432-8672.

Meanwhile, each of the 3,867 graves at the adjacent Mobile National Cemetery received a miniature American flag, stuck 12 inches from the front of the headstone, on Friday, as they do every Memorial Day.

Usually, a group volunteers to put out the flags and pick them back up, but this year no one stepped up, said Larry Robinson, program support assistant at Barrancas National Cemetery at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola.

“We have a contract to put out the flags in case we don’t have volunteers,” Robinson said.

In Pensacola, Boy Scouts are volunteering to adorn the markers of some 30,000 graves, he said.

Established in 1865, Mobile National Cemetery holds the remains of veterans of eight wars: the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, War Between the States, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War, according to a Department of Veterans Affairs brochure.

National Cemetery is a closed cemetery, meaning no more interments can take place there.


Memorial Day: A Time to Remember


Photo Credit: Me, Coach Muller
Photo Credit: Me, Coach Muller

It has always fascinated me how many people have sacrificed their lives or the quality of their life for the freedom that all Americans enjoy every day. I can’t imagine the impact that these misfortunes have on not only the soldiers, but the lives of their families and friends.

I always take the time each Memorial Day to think of the soldiers and the freedom that we have and say a little prayer for all of those who are in harm’s way today.

Unfortunately, I am embarrassed and sorry to say, that I don’t think many people REALLY are grateful for the many things that they take pleasure in because of what our soldiers and veterans have sacrificed. It is for that reason that I decided to post some statistics of all of the wars that America has fought. I have found the following information on the “Department of Foreign Affairs” website called “America’s Wars.”

It is my hope that these stats will open your eyes and give you a clearer picture of exactly how much has been sacrificed for this country during the past 200 years or so.


American Revolution (1775-1783)

Total U.S. Service members (1) 217,000

Battle Deaths 4,435

Non-mortal Woundings 6,188


War of 1812 (1812-1815)

Total U.S. Service members 286,730

Battle Deaths 2,260

Non-mortal Woundings 4,505


Indian Wars (approx. 1817-1898)

Total U.S. Service members (VA estimate) 106,000

Battle Deaths (VA estimate) 1,000


Mexican War (1846-1848)

Total U.S. Service members 78,718

Battle Deaths 1,733

Other Deaths (In Theater) 11,550

Non-mortal Woundings 4,152


Civil War (1861-1865)

Total U.S. Service members (Union) 2,213,363

Battle Deaths (Union) 140,414

Other Deaths (In Theater) (Union) 224,097

Non-mortal Woundings (Union) 281,881

Total Service members (Conf.) (2) 1,050,000

Battle Deaths (Confederate) (3) 74,524

Other Deaths (In Theater) (Confederate) (3), (4) 59,297

Non-mortal Woundings (Confederate) Unknown


Spanish-American War (1898-1902)

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) 306,760

Battle Deaths 385

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 2,061

Non-mortal Woundings 1,662


World War I (1917-1918)

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) 4,734,991

Battle Deaths 53,402

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 63,114

Non-mortal Woundings 204,002

Living Veterans 0


World War II (1941 –1945)

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) 16,112,566

Battle Deaths 291,557

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 113,842

Non-mortal Woundings 670,846

Living Veterans (5) 1,711,000


Korean War (1950-1953)

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) 5,720,000

Total Serving (In Theater) 1,789,000

Battle Deaths 33,739

Other Deaths (In Theater) 2,835

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 17,672

Non-mortal Woundings 103,284

Living Veterans 2,275,000


Vietnam War (1964-1975)

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) (6) 8,744,000

Deployed to Southeast Asia (7) 3,403,000

Battle Deaths (8) 47,434

Other Deaths (In Theater) (8) 10,786

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) (8) 32,000

Non-mortal Woundings (9) 153,303

Living Veterans 5, 10 7,391,000


Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-1991)

Total U.S. Service members (Worldwide) 2,322,000

Deployed to Gulf 694,550

Battle Deaths 148

Other Deaths (In Theater) 235

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 1,565

Non-mortal Woundings 467

Living Veterans 5, 10 2,244,583


America’s Wars Total (1775 -1991)

U.S. Military Service during Wartime 41,892,128

Battle Deaths 651,031

Other Deaths (In Theater) 308,800

Other Deaths in Service (Non-Theater) 230,279

Non-mortal Woundings 1,431,290

Living War Veterans11 16,962,000

Living Veterans (Periods of War & Peace) 23,234,000


Global War on Terror (Oct 2001 – )

The Global War on Terror (GWOT), including Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), are ongoing conflicts. For the most current GWOT statistics visit the following Department of Defense Website:



1. Exact number is unknown. Posted figure is the median of estimated range from 184,000 – 250,000.

2. Exact number is unknown. Posted figure is median of estimated range from 600,000 – 1,500,000.

3. Death figures are based on incomplete returns.

4. Does not include 26,000 to 31,000 who died in Union prisons.

5. Estimate based upon new population projection methodology.

6. Covers the period 8/5/64 – 1/27/73 (date of cease fire)

7. Department of Defense estimate

8. Covers period 11/1/55 – 5/15/75

9. Excludes 150,341 not requiring hospital care

10. Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) estimate, as of 4/09, does not include those still on active duty and may include veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

11. Total will be more than sum of conflicts due to no “end date” established for Persian Gulf War.

Source: Department of Defense (DOD), except living veterans, which are VA estimates as of Sep 2010.


Take time each day to thank a soldier or a veteran for the sacrifices that they have made!!


Dressing A Soldier For The Last Time


Photo Credit: Sheep Dog - Impact Assistance's
Photo Credit: Sheep Dog – Impact Assistance’s

This is a picture the military has never let anyone see until now.

This is a picture behind the scenes at Dover Air Force Base where the bodies of fallen soldiers are prepared for burial.

And that includes being properly dressed, all the way down to the smallest detail.
In this picture Staff Sgt. Miguel Deynes is making sure the uniform is just right for an army pilot recently killed in Afghanistan.

There is a very specific process once a fallen soldier is returned home.

The bodies are flown back to the U.S. on a cargo jet.

A team of service members wearing white gloves carries the coffins, covered with flags, to a white van that takes them to the Armed Forces Medical Examiner.

The remains are washed, the hands are scrubbed clean, and the hair is shampooed. If necessary bones are wired together and damaged tissue is reconstructed with flesh-toned wax.

Sometimes they will use photos, sometimes just intuition to recreate the wrinkles in faces, and the lines around the mouth or the corner of the eyes.

“It has to look normal, like someone who is sleeping.”

Once the body is ready then the uniform is prepared.

That includes putting medals in the proper order on the ribbon rack above the jacket’s breast pocket.
During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 10 to 20 bodies were arriving every day.

The embalmers often worked all night to get the bodies home on time. That can take an emotional toll so the mortuary has a large gym so workers can blow off steam.

Many say they are haunted by how young the fallen soldiers are, and by how many of them leave behind small children.

That’s why Sgt. Deynes says they are advised not to do research into the backgrounds of the soldiers.

“If I knew the story of every individual who went through here, I would probably be in a padded cell.”
The dress uniform being prepared in this particular case will be in a closed casket.

Even so, it will be perfectly tailored, starched and pressed. Everything will be checked down to the last detail.
Sgt. Deynes says, “They’re (the family) not going to see it. I do it for myself. It’s more than an honor it’s a blessing to dress that soldier for the last time.”



Carl: A Great Lesson to LEarn

Photo Credit: felixsao via Flickr
Photo Credit: felixsao via Flickr

Carl was a quiet man. He didn’t talk much. He would always greet you with a big smile and a firm handshake.

Even after living in our neighborhood for over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him very well.

Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning. The lone sight of him walking down the street often worried us.

He had a slight limp from a bullet wound received in WWII.

Watching him, we worried that although he had survived WWII, he may not make it through our changing uptown neighborhood with its ever-increasing random violence, gangs, and drug activity.

When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers for caring for the gardens behind the minister’s residence, he responded in his characteristically unassuming manner. Without fanfare, he just signed up.

He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always feared finally happened.

He was just finishing his watering for the day when three gang members approached him.
Ignoring their attempt to intimidate him, he simply asked, “Would you like a drink from the hose?”

The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said, “Yeah, sure,” with a malevolent little smile.

As Carl offered the hose to him, the other two grabbed Carl’s arm, throwing him down.
As the hose snaked crazily over the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl’s assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled.

Carl tried to get himself up, but he had been thrown down on his bad leg. He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came running to help him.

Although the minister had witnessed the attack from his window, he couldn’t get there fast enough to stop it.

“Carl, are you okay? Are you hurt?” the minister kept asking as he helped Carl to his feet.

Carl just passed a hand over his brow and sighed, shaking his head. “Just some punk kids. I hope they’ll wise-up someday.”

His wet clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. He adjusted the nozzle again and started to water.

Confused and a little concerned, the minister asked, “Carl, what are you doing?”

“I’ve got to finish my watering. It’s been very dry lately,” came the calm reply.

Satisfying himself that Carl really was all right, the minister could only marvel. Carl was a man from a different time and place.

A few weeks later the three returned. Just as before their threat was unchallenged.
Carl again offered them a drink from his hose.

This time they didn’t rob him. They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched him head to foot in the icy water.

When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the street, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the hilarity of what they had just done.

Carl just watched them. Then he turned toward the warmth giving sun, picked up his hose, and went on with his watering.

The summer was quickly fading into fall. Carl was doing some tilling when he was startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him. He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches.

As he struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormentors reaching down for him. He braced himself for the expected attack.

“Don’t worry old man, I’m not gonna hurt you this time.”

The young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to Carl. As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket and handed it to Carl.

“What’s this?” Carl asked. “It’s your stuff,” the man explained. “It’s your stuff back.
Even the money in your wallet.” “I don’t understand,” Carl said “Why would you help me now?”

The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease. “I learned something from you,” he said. “I ran with that gang and hurt people like you. We picked you because you were old and we knew we could do it but every time we came and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting back, you tried to give us a drink. You didn’t hate us for hating you. You kept showing love against our hate.”

He stopped for a moment. “I couldn’t sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back.”

He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing what more there was to say. “That bag’s my way of saying thanks for straightening me out, I guess.” And with that, he walked off down the street.

Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it. He took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist. Opening his wallet, he checked for his wedding photo. He gazed for a moment at the young bride that still smiled back at him from all those years ago.

He died one cold day after Christmas that winter. Many people attended his funeral in spite of the weather.

In particular the minister noticed a tall young man that he didn’t know sitting quietly in a distant corner of the church.

The minister spoke of Carl’s garden as a lesson in life.

In a voice made thick with un-shed tears, he said, “Do your best and make your garden as beautiful as you can. We will never forget Carl and his garden.”

The following spring another flyer went up. It read: “Person needed to care for Carl’s garden.”

The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the minister’s office door.

Opening the door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and tattooed hands holding the flyer. “I believe this is my job, if you’ll have me,” the young man said.

The minister recognized him as the same young man who had returned the stolen watch and wallet to Carl.

He knew that Carl’s kindness had turned this man’s life around. As the minister handed him the keys to the garden shed, he said, “Yes, go take care of Carl’s garden and honor him.”

The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended the flowers and vegetables just as Carl had done.

During that time, he went to college, got married, and became a prominent member of the community. But he never forgot his promise to Carl’s memory and kept the garden as beautiful as he thought Carl would have kept it.

One day he approached the new minister and told him that he couldn’t care for the garden any longer. He explained with a shy and happy smile, “My wife just had a baby boy last night, and she’s bringing him home on Saturday..”

“Well, congratulations!” said the minister, as he was handed the garden shed keys. “That’s wonderful! What’s the baby’s name?”

“Carl,” he replied…