“Encouraging Words for Today” – November 9, 2011


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.

Pratt Secrest - U.S. Air Force

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

Cindy with Lt. Col. Tony Monetti & Penny Monetti

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 only want to fly!"

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)

Let’s all take time today and this week to Pray for all those men and women who have served and continue to serve our country. Here is a prayer I use for such times…

under the mercy, Cindy

“O Prince of Peace, we humbly ask Your protection for all our men and women in military service. Give them unflinching courage to defend with honor, dignity and devotion the rights of all who are imperiled by injustice and evil. Guard our churches, our homes, our schools, our hospitals, our factories, our buildings, and all those within from harm and peril. Protect our land and its people from enemies within and without. Grant an early peace with victory founded upon justice. Instill in the hearts and minds of me and women everywhere a firm purpose to live forever in peace and good will towards all. Amen.”

 copyright 2011 Lucinda Secrest McDowell

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5 Responses to FOR THOSE WHO SERVE…

  1. maggierowe says:

    This is a wonderful tribute to your daddy and to all who have served; I had forgotten he was an USAF pilot. I know you will be missing him in particular on Saturday, Those “firsts” after a loss are especially difficult emotionally. And it’s clear where you first learned to use words well…

  2. KathyPalmer says:

    cindy, my dad served in the korean war and in world war II and my older brother served our country from the time he left college until he died, 20 yrs, and i am proud to say so. we are a very fortunate country and it does go with out saying “freedom is not free”. i am so thankful also to say my older brother’s daughter is serving our country now, she graduated from the air force academy in co and is a capt now flying for the us airforce. people like them and ur dad r the ones that make the us strong and free.
    love u,

  3. I love your dad! You inherited his sense of humor. Love the Monetti’s too. Tony’s quote really touched my heart. Thanks for honoring our veteran’s, Lucinda.

  4. Thank you so much for this beautiful article and all the pictures. My dad is also a veteran and 100% disabled because of his service in the Army.

  5. Fran Sandin says:

    This is a great tribute to your dad and also to all who serve our great country! I have noticed the character qualities of the fine young men in our acquaintance who have volunteered to serve, and they are truly outstanding. They certainly deserve our support and remembrance. My dad served in WWII, and I was very proud of him. Your dad had a way with words–now I know why you are so talented. Thanks again!
    Fran Sandin

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