“Encouraging Words for Today” – November 9, 2011
FOR THOSE WHO SERVE…
By Lucinda Secrest McDowell
So, I’m crying while watching “60 Minutes” this week as a very young soldier weeps about his experiencees in Iraq. Wondering if he will ever be able to get on with his life and heal from the battlescars… I can’t help but think of so many other young soldiers through the years who have put their lives on the line… for us! On Veteran’s Day we remember and thank all those who serve our country.
Of course I’m remembering my favorite Veteran and the one I miss most right now – Daddy. November 12th would have been his 87th birthday, but this one he’s celebrating in Heaven… My father, Pratt Secrest, was one of the Greatest Generation who served during both World War II (Air Force pilot) and the Korean War (Information officer/journalist). Can you even imagine training to be a bomber pilot at age eighteen? What responsibility at such a young age… When Daddy turned twenty he wrote down some of his thoughts after a war-torn year, in his poem “Outlook”
Sometimes I look at life through the span
Of twenty years without a caravan
Of thoughts to bring a sweet and low refrain,
A song to penetrate endless rain.
In spite of hopes to think of things I love,
I find that memory honors only tears.
In vain I lift my eyes to look above
The strife and death of conflict-shattered years.
Oh, men of earth! You know that war’s release
Is only through the God of Lasting Peace!
– Pratt Secrest, 1944
This past summer I had the privilege of meeting Tony & Penny Monetti who are committed to helping other military families. Here’s how Tony addressed the question so many people ask in our day and age: “Why do American servicemen and women voluntarily serve in the military? What gives us the courage to potentially lay down our lives for our nation? After 23 years of service with our joint force, I know why. We serve because we believe that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. We sacrifice because we share an ideal of service over self and an unshakeable belief in America and her values. America stands for freedom, providing opportunities for people to live their dreams… Our country’s founding fathers risked their lives for this ideal and serve as an example to us. In our country’s history, many have died to protect this ideal… If there is one thing I know after serving with American soldiers, airmen, and marines, it is that our character of service over self binds us together… We must continue holding the torch of freedom, for we are America’s hope for a better tomorrow.” (Tony & Penny Monetti in “Called to Serve”)
Daddy was one of those ‘called to serve’, and even as a young airman, Pratt Secrest, chose to use humor to get through tough times… Here is his take on First Aid training during flight school in his poem “First Aid”
I’ve studied blood and bleeding, and cuts from ear to ear,
And what to put on punctures when the doctor isn’t here.
With digital compression I’m supposed to be a whiz,
But actually, my technique’s wrong, I’m really just a ‘fizz.’
And if the victim has a bone that’s broken, torn or bent,
I proudly put a bandage on (resembling a tent).
The teacher made me volunteer to be a case of rabies.
(If this continues, soon I’ll be delivering little babies!)
So give me no more bruises, burns, incisions, lacerations.
If anybody mentiones blood, I’ll change the conversation.
You keep your dern old First Aid stuff, I only want to fly!
And if I ever get a wound.. So help me, I’ll just die.
– Pratt Secrest, Flight School 1943 (age 19)
under the mercy, Cindy