Thursday, July 03, 2008

A World War II Vet Remembers

Mr. John H. Light is originally from the Pennsylvania Dutch farming community of Annville, PA. His daughter attends our church here at Grace. Mr. Light served during WWII as an infantryman in the 104 Army Division. He fought in the campaigns of Belgium, Holland and Germany, where he was wounded shortly before the war’s end. He also received the Silver Star Medal.

He wrote a book entitled, “An Infantryman Remembers World War II,” to share his experiences. I read his book and thoroughly enjoyed every chapter. Two of the most interesting facts from this book are in his experiences following being wounded while receiving treatment at Walter Reed Hospital. One experience centered around a visitor when his therapist asked if the patients would like a visit from her father who recently returned home from the European Theater of Operations. Here is what he wrote:

“’Who is your father?’ we asked. She said that her dad was General Patton and that she thought that he would be glad to visit their ward. The next day the general appeared in our ward and began to go down my side of the ward shaking hands with each patient and exchanging greetings. I have no idea what I said as I shook the hand of this famous general. You will have to accept my word that no other general in World War II had the military bearing and the imposing figure of General Patton.”

Imagine being able to meet General George Patton (pictured)! But Mr. Light’s experiences while at Walter Reed also included being able to touch something famous as well. In his wonderful book, he describes a very wealthy Washingtonian women named Mrs Evelyn Walsh McClean who would throw special parties for the patients. One day she came by while he was receiving a back rub from an aid who was admiring Mrs. McClean’s jewelry, especially the large blue pendent. Mrs McClean asked if the aid would like to wear it. She took it off and handed it to Mr. Light to pass to the aid. Mr. Light writes:

“It was a lovely huge blue stone surrounded by diamonds…Mrs McClean told her to wear it for a while…sometime later the party had ended and the ward was being prepared for lights out when the aid realized she was still wearing the necklace. The staff was discussing what action to take when several security people and several representatives of the insurance company descended on our ward to apprehend the person who had stolen the ‘Hope Diamond.’ Our ward was a scene of excitement until the precious stone was returned to its owner. You can see this stone now in the Smithsonian Institute under the most stringent conditions of security. And just think that I held it in my hands.”

Those are some incredible experiences. Meeting General Patton and touching the Hope Diamond. That’s pretty amazing, wouldn’t you say? But then again, one day I will get to meet Jesus face to face and touch eternal life in heaven. Now that’s even more amazing, wouldn’t you say?

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