This past summer I was fortunate enough to have made another trip on the LST 325. As most of you know Gladys and I have been working/helping to restore and sail the ship to various port over the past 6 years. This time the destination was Peoria, Illinois.
For me this was almost a round trip spanning over 62 years. The ship I was on in 1945 to 1946 was made in Seneca, Illinois. My crew went on board the LST 1132, March, 1945 and proceeded down river to Mobile. Alabama. In September, 2005, I was on board the 325 as we brought it to Evansville, Indiana, its new home port. Again an important part of that trip was the fact my two sons were on board for the trip up river. Seneca is about 50 some odd miles beyond Peoria. It was pointed out to me by one of the boys that I may be the only person to have taken a LST from that point during the war and bring one back in peace time.
Life, it would seem to me to be a round trip starting from birth to the time when we go home to be with our maker. So many thing have passed beneath the waters of my life that I would have a hard time enumerating all of them. So I will just deal with some of the highlights. My first memories are being with my Mother and Father. At age 6 Mother passed away and I went to live with my Grandparents. What a blessing to have had them waiting with open arms to raise my two brothers and I. Even though Mom was not here with me, I have felt her presence in everything I have accomplished.
My four score years have seem many changes in this world, particularly in the part I live in. This past September saw the birth of another great granddaughter. When I look at that very, very small bundle of life, I feel most humble. She is coming into a world that seems to be more challenging every day. I wonder will she enjoy life as much as I have. Will she be able to see the world as a wonderful place to be. Will she feel God's love, see the wonders he has created, walk in the knowledge that today is wonderful and know that tomorrow will be even better? Most likely she will also feel the pain of disappointment, of heartbreak, of plans upset, of desires not met and the everyday problems that go with each and every one of us. That said, then she will need to reach out to the hand of God that is always outstretched for all of us. That is where the joy of life rests. We can only ask for the strength to be what he wants us to be.
This Christmas Season is the time when we come together as families, embrace old and new friends and reflect on the past year and its accomplishments. Maybe you have had joys that makes you happy, maybe there have been times when life has handed you setbacks, yes even heart break. My prayer is that you have been able to find solace in family or a friend, or maybe a stranger has reached out just in the nick of time to get you over the hurdle. What I do know is God is ready to listen to your every prayer and this is a real comfort at the time when we are desperately in need.
Having said all of this Gladys and I wish each and everyone of you a joyous Christmas season and a coming year full of new challenges that you can embrace and deal with every day. May family gatherings be a joyful occasion and full of hugs that convey much love.