It is Monday morning, and the rain has continued as it has almost all weekend long. We have needed rain in New Hampshire. Although the weekend has not been favorable to outside activities, our gardens and forests will now flourish. In the springtime, there is always the danger of fire until the undergrowth in our forests turns green, and the dry leaves become decayed. We do not need to worry about that right now.
This is the time of year when college classes ended, and I began my summer job. During my summers, I worked with the Parkhust Brothers Construction Company in North Hampton,New Hampshire. Bud Parkhurst had married my cousin Barbara,and Wayne and Chet Parkhurst had decided along with Bud to try their hand at home building. The Second World War was over, and they had returned home to their families. As a matter of fact, the first construction they did was to build each other a new home. There was a great housing shortage, and the homes they built did after that did not stay on the market for a long time.
One of the best parts of learning home construction was the comradery of all the construction people involved – carpenters, electricians, and plumbers.
The electricians cut and drilled holes in our framing, the plumbers were called “chicken” for they had heaters to warm cellars on cold days as we neared autumn. The trade bantering was fun, but what really held our attention was the stories that were told to us by those men who had just returned from war. At coffee break, we would listen with rapt attention to the stories of truth and the horror of war.
Bud, my cousins’ husband, was in the European theater of the war. Stationed in England for a time, he spoke of the buzz bombs that rained down on that country. When you heard the engine of the bomber, you did not fear, but when the engine stopped, you knew the bomb would be descending, perhaps right on you.
When D Day was over, Bud eventually was assigned to a landing craft division which was to cross the Rhine River. He was to be responsible to see the landing craft doors opened to let the soldiers fight their way over in a new front. Bud’s brother Chester was in the Pacific where the disease of jungle rot decimated his men. Wayne did not talk much about his experiences except to speak of his coming home in a ship overcrowded with soldiers who were ecstatic that they were returning home to their beloved country, the United States of America.
They so loved their beloved country that many came home unable to talk about the horrors of war. Men came home maimed and handicapped from the battles where they had fought against the enemy. It was an enemy that would seek to take away the freedom of their families, and who would destroy our American way of life.
Most of those veterans are gone now, and my age group is the last to remember that great war as children. Now, will history change what happened during that war or will people see history as it was? Did you ride into Boston on rationed gasoline and see the antiaircraft gun emplacements at Wellington Circle? Did you see the blimps along the Cape Cod Canal and witness on the beaches goods floating on the water from the ships that had been sunk by submarines off our coast? Yes, unfair practices took place regarding Japanese Americans, but do you realize the fear of subversive activities to our plants and factories? Do you know it was believed if the Japanese had followed up after Pearl Harbor with an invasion, they might not have been stopped until the Mississippi River? Do you know we children of that war played spy and sought to see signs of the enemy within our community? And indeed, there was a family near us who was quietly taken away to prison.
It seems today that the United States is portrayed as an unfair, undesirable country. It seems today that even the founding of our great nation was by evil men. Yet, should we not look at the progress this country has made and be proud of our accomplishments on the way to a better, fairer society? We need to read history and to understand history; we need to return to where society was at the founding of this nation. I look at integration of all people; I look at the changes made for the elderly and handicapped people. We have a long way to go to have a perfect society, but this is the nation I love and will work to keep it ever progressing to a better state. But after all, that is my faith as well. I am a flawed Christian, but I try to live by my Master’s teachings. My faith had much to do with the founding of this great nation, and the Christian principle of love and kindness has always been the Christian’s watchword.
The church’s role in America has been to encourage truthfulness and kindness, honesty and a forgiving nature. The church’s role is to build a nation of good, honest, hard working, caring citizens. Its role is not to become a political institution. We believe in separation of church and state, and those boundaries are being tested in our age. As Christian people, we do not limit other religions to exist or to be practiced; we are accepting of all ethnic and racial backgrounds. That is the heart of our/my Christian faith. I need not be told differently. My heart and my life belong to my Savior. I will do my very best to live by His teachings. And those teachings all lead to a better American way of life.
“And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”