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Convention Memorial Service honors deceased members

The annual Memorial Service at the Little Rock Convention was held at 8:30 a.m. July 21 at the Doubletree Hotel.

Past presidents presented the colors. President John Vasa led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Chaplain Joe Johnson led the call to worship.

The 99th Chorus sang "This is My Country."

Johnson shared the words for the day:

"Let's take a few minutes to remind ourselves why we have a memorial service. There is a reason. Really, many reasons. We need to say thank you in memory of all the soldiers who gave their lives, that we might continue to live and enjoy this great country called America. Those soldiers are the real heroes, and we must never forget them.

"During a tour of western Europe a few years ago my wife and I had a chance to visit some of the military cemeteries. They are spotless and well kept, honored and well remembered. Another reason is that we should remind those here with us, who were not here during WWII, and may not have been given details of what happened to make sure that all of us could continue to enjoy the greatest land of all, the USA, a democracy of the people, for the people, and by the people.

"One more reason: We should also honor and say a big thank you to those who fought and are still alive today. They survived a living hell. Let's remember to say thanks.

"Speaking of a living hell, let me explain, for our remembrance, two or thee actions experienced first hand by many of us here today. These took place some 60 years ago in Western Europe. First and foremost, of course was the Battle of the Bulge. That has been well publicized. Just the unit in which I was involved lost 75 percent of its men within the first week. They were wounded, captured, or killed. This was pure hell. Most all the front line units had similar results.

The Ruhr Pocket was another frightening experience. Several thousand German soldiers surrendered one night. After much discussion, it was agreed to wait until daylight for them to officially turn in their arms. Tensions were high with both American and German soldiers, fully armed, walking the same streets all night until dawn. One other experience that we will not soon forget is the Bridge at Remagen. Action there, although not extensive, was severe and costly to our soldiers. For example, on a personal basis after we crossed over the bridge and set up positions we became pinned down by heavy tank fire. When the tank was knocked out yours truly was the only one left in the squad. Enough said.

"We were called 'Battle Babies,' for a reason. Most of us were still in our teens, and inexperienced on the battlefield. Let's talk about something else.

"The peace and promise offered in the 23rd Psalm was written by a man named David. Why did David write it? Perhaps to help us understand God, and to know that He is unchanging and ungoverned and always present.

"Here's a true story written by noted author, Max Lucado. This story is about a retired, wheelchair-bound music professor, living on the first floor of an apartment building. When a good friend stopped by, he asked the usual question of the professor, 'Well, what's the good news?' The old man would pick up his tuning fork, tap it on the edge of the table and say, 'That's middle C. It was middle C yesterday. It will be middle C tomorrow. It will be middle C a thousand years from now. You and I need a middle C. We have had enough change in our life. Relationships change, health changes, weather changes. But the God who has ruled the Earth since time began has the same convictions, the same love, the same plan. Even when the weather changes, God remains the same. God is our middle C. He never changes.' Don't we all need our God? We need a God we know who loves and cares for us as if we were the only one.

"We don't need what Dorothy found. Remember her discovery in the wonderful Wizard of Oz? She and her trio followed the Yellow Brick Road only to discover that the Wizard was a wimp — nothing but smoke and mirrors and tin drum thunder. Is that the kind of God we need? No. We need a God who can place two million stars in our galaxy and 100 billion galaxies in the universe. We need a God who can shape billions of nerve cells with as many as 10,000 connections to other nerve cells and place them in a skull, and call it a brain. We need a mighty God who also can tough us with the tenderness of love and concern.

"Yes, we need a real God. And He is available to all of us who believe. And He will take us through the valley of the shadow of death.

"None of us know when that time will come, and we must not just sit around and wait. We must continue to live our lives to the fullest extent possible. There are things to be done here on this earth before we sign off.

"Yes, we are having more aches and pains; and we are growing older. We can get relief from our hurts if we really want to. How? Simply by turning our attention to someone hurting more than we are, or toward something that needs doing for the benefit of others. That is the best way to get away from yourself.

"We can resist the aging process, though we cannot stop it or alter it for any significant time. But, if we can focus our attention on someone needing help or something that needs our action to achieve success, it will help to relieve some of our hurting. If you need to search for places to become active, here are some suggestions: hospitals, hospice, assisted living, schools, grandchildren, church missions, etc.

"When you face the tomb, don't be troubled. Trust me. You get the feeling that to God the grave is a no-brainer. He talks like a mechanic who says to a concerned client, 'sure the engine needs an overhaul, but don't worry, I can do it.' But for us, it's an ordeal. To Him, it's no big deal. We must trust not only that He does what is best — but that He knows what is ahead.

"Whatever happens, we are not alone. The Lord is with us. He has been a faithful Father. We must be faithful children. Let me tell you who you are. In fact, let me proclaim who you are. You are an heir of God!

"But even more than this and most important, is the fact that we are God's children. He has loved us so much that we are called His children. Isn't that great? We are really God's children.

"Our cup truly overflows with blessings. Have you ever had any question in your mind of why God gives us so much? We could exist on so much less. Why give a flower any fragrance? Why give food a taste? I think it makes God happy to see his children happy.

"When next a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, be quiet as Heaven whispers, 'Do you like it? I did it just for you.' God loves us so much. His ways are greater than ours. Out of His wisdom, God gives us a look at Heaven just to show us He cares.

"God never said it would be easy, but He did say it was worthwhile. He may not do what we think He should, but He will do what is right. Trust Him and the ups and downs of or trip will be lost in the joys of the feast that will follow.

"Before we say Amen to this presentation, let's get back to our reason for gathering here today. I would like to read a letter from our Belgian friends, Mathilde and Marcel Schmetz.

Dear veterans,

I know that the separation of family and friends is one of the many sacrifices the Army asked of you 58 years ago. You left them for the call of duty. If you ask a veteran why he served, the answer would be duty, honor, country, family, freedom. But when you look at the true meaning of all those precious things, they are the same. You are all proud to be part of the greatest free nation in the world — America.

I would like to close with a poem that displays to me the courage and the strength of you, the family and friends that supported you back home in those times. It is called Guarding the Gate.

He just turned five, and his eyes were so sad.

Please tell me again mommy, about my dad.

Her heart almost breaks, as she hugs him so tight.

She tries not to cry, it takes all her might.

Your father was a soldier, so proud and so true.

He did what he did, for me and for you.

They sent hi away, to a far distant land.

She remembered the past, while she held his small hand.

He fought for our country, and we should be proud.

And that's why you hear me, at night pray out loud.

Your daddy is in heaven, he gave up his life.

He did not want to leave his baby and wife.

Many others like daddy, who answered the call

Don't make it home, in war they did fall.

I know at your age, it is so hard to see.

That what daddy did, is why we are free.

Your dad still protects us, in a far away land.

But instead of a rifle, he's holding God's hand.

So when the flag passes by, we still stand up real straight.

Because soldiers like daddy, are still guarding the gate.

"It is primarily to remember all our buddies and comrades who gave themselves in WWII so we could have and enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in this great country — the United States of America. Amen."

Those we remember

Charles Assman A/395

L. Carmen Ballengee K/393

Wilmer R. Barts Q/924

Keith D. Berry G/393

Charles E. Black E/393

William "Bill" Blasdel K/395

Bob Boerstler K/394

Robert Brennan Q/370

Dale Brown H/393

James C. Burtner Jr. G/394

Nick Cavicchio G/394

James W. Clark HQ/394

Stanley Lionel Cohen I/395

James Crafton K/393

Richard L. Culbert G/395

Harry W. Davis K/393

Phillip DeBerry Sr. Unknown

Dominic DePalma K/393

William T. Dougher N/395

Tom Doyle G/395

John "Big Jack" Dufalla K/394

Ralph E. Erdman 395

Edward C. Evans 393

T.C. Evans K/393

Ralph Finklea L/395

Richard H. Folmar Can/394

Patrick W. Fordney Jr. Unknown

Eugene Paul Frame S/372

Robert P. Gabriel A/394

Marvin Godfrey FA/3917

Robert A. Green S/395

Ben Wayne Greig Jr. E/394

Jim Hare I/395

Donald "Shorty" Harper M/394

Lenus Hersch Hileman L/393

Edward Hojnowski QM/Med

George H. Jenkins A/393

Sherman "Red" Kindle K/393

Robert J. Klug E/395

Ron Krebs HQ/393

Harry Krieger E/395

William C. Lake I/394

Harold L. Lange I/393

Bill Logue C/394

Floyd J. Lupton Sr. QM/370

Donald Maurer C/924

Roy B. McCorkle B/395

Joseph McGlinn B/394

Jack Moffatt 1/393

Frank Mostek QM/372

Don "Daddy" Olmsted S/395

Edwin Pratt C/394

George W. Reed H/393

Harry Riddle I/395

Rickmer A. Riewerts 324 Med

Donald L. Rude L/394

Joseph E. Salvo Unknown

Charles W. Satterly T/394

Billy E. Scheidler A/372

Lewis W. Shedron C/370

Gene W. Shope C/395

Earl B. Smart QM/394

John D. Smith A/395

William Norman Smith B/371

Ray "Butch" Staab H/393

Warren H. Stewart I/395

James E. Storey A/372

Delbert J. Stumpff D/394

Albert Sutorka K/393

Vernon E. Swanson C/395

George Talley N/394

Anthony J. Thibeau G/394

Bill Tumblin HQ 1st Bn/393

Harold F. Wall A/395

Joseph T. Waskiewicz A/393

Ed Wilkes S/099

Marvin E. Wilson Jr. Unknown

Thomas D. Wilson Q/370

William G. Yaegle B/324

Edward Zioncheck M/395

Taps were sounded by Stewart Boone.

A prayer of intercession was given by Chaplain Johnson and the chorus sang "God is Always With Me."

Melanie Wilkins performed a special song, "If You Could See Me Now."

The past presidents retired the colors and the chaplain gave the benediction.