Sunday, February 9, 2014

Patriotism, Pride and Personal Involvement

A favored hobby is genealogy.  I find great pleasure in researching my families genealogy and in learning about my ancestry.  History has always intrigued me, especially my own history.

SPC Caleb M. Watkins, we are so proud of you and so thankful you are again safe at home with us!

On Saturday, February 1, my family welcomed home our own personal member of American military history.  Actually, he is just the latest in a long line of our families' men and women who are American patriots and who have served in the American military. 

From the days of the Revolution, my ancestors have fought for the liberty we enjoy as Americans.  Even before those days, they fought in the old countries alongside their family and neighbors for what they believed to be the right way.  From the Highlands of Scotland to the Irish fields and the English moors, my ancestors maintained the battle for freedom.  They boarded the great ships bound for the New Country to find liberty and were thankful and happy to fight alongside their neighbors once here to guarantee their families could live in that liberty.

In the battles of the War Between the States, my ancestors fought on both sides of the conflict, each believing they were right in their fight.  From the fields of France in World War I to the French and Belgian forests in World War II; from the Korean and Vietnamese peninsulas and into the ancient lands of Mesopotamia in the 20th and 21st centuries...our family has continued the battle for liberty and to defend freedom.

Cpl. Van P. McDonald in Germany.
My own Daddy was an American Army Marksman destined for Korea when Divine Intervention halted that march as the treaty was signed on the day he was set to sail for Korea. Instead, he spent 18 months in Germany perfecting his skills and attaining a military reputation as an expert marksman who was offered his own squad in exchange for re-enlistment.  He declined the offer and came home to do what he loved...farm.

So, when my youngest nephew, Caleb, joined the Tennessee Army National Guard, he carried on a proud tradition of service to his country and a commitment to the battle to defend America and liberty around the world.  When he completed his AIT at Fort Leonard Wood, MO with excellent marksmanship awards and the Top Gun certificate for his class of recruits, he carried on the tradition started by his Papaw Mac over a half century earlier.

Our Caleb with his niece, Allyson, as he prepares to leave Hardeman County for Fort Bliss, TX and then Afghanistan.
Last May, he left the National Guard Armory in Hardeman County, TN with the 251st MP Company to prepare for deployment to Afghanistan at Fort Bliss, TX.  They left Fort Bliss in early July, 2013 and returned home on February 1, 2014.  After 6 months in Afghanistan and 8 months away from home, the men and women of the 251st were again home with their families.  For the first time since May 28, 2013, the feet of brave Tennessee Volunteers touched the soil of Tennessee again on February 1, 2014.  They marched into the arms of waiting family and friends who were proud and honored to have them serve but more than anything, thankful to have them again safely at home.

We were no different than the other families, we are proud of our young man and so very thankful he is safe at home again.  His journey has been a trying one, with many unexpected ups and downs along the way, but he is a better man for his experience and we are better for having prayed him through it.  When he walked through that door and we saw his face and heard his voice there live in the room with us for the first time in so long, it gave us joy that is indescribable.  When his Momma ran to him and they embraced for that first time in months, tears flowed throughout the room.  Our son was home again and our family tradition of defending freedom has once again brought honor and pride to us.

My sister, Charlotte, with her son SPC Caleb M. Watkins after he surprised her with his homecoming!
Welcome home, Caleb; you stand in shoes many have filled and have walked footsteps many have walked before you and many will walk behind you.  As I once heard Mr. G. C. Bartlett say of his experiences as a P.O.W. in the German camps during World War II, "All that I suffered I would gladly do again.  I love my God and I love my country.  Liberty is worth the sacrifice".  Yes, liberty has been worth the sacrifice.  Thank you, Caleb, and every man or woman who has ever made that sacrifice; we are in your debt.

 Greater love hath no man than this, 
that a man lay down his life for his friends.
 John 15:13  (KJV)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Time Marches On......

Terry E. Chandler - August, 2008


Today marks the 5th anniversary of my first husband's home going. Sometimes that seems like yesterday and at others, it seems like another life time.  Terry was an imperfect man, faults too numerable to mention, as are we all.  Yet, he also was a kind and loving man who valued his relationship with Jesus Christ above everything and who worked diligently to provide for us.  He had a great sense of humor and laughed so easily.  He treasured his family and wanted the very best for all of us.

I am now remarried to a wonderful man, a man who loves me and is totally devoted to me.  Every road I've traveled in this journey called life has brought me to here and to this love.  Terry would be happy for me.  He would not have wanted me to be alone for the remainder of my life.  He told me so many times before he went home.  I never honestly thought I would remarry, but here I am.

A part of me will always love Terry, will always find joy in what we shared.  That is by no means meant to be disrespectful of Jerry.  I love Jerry in ways I didn't know I could love.  What he and I share is so much different than what I shared with Terry.  I loved Terry and always will but what I have for Jerry is so much more mature and intense than what I had with Terry.

I will never be sorry for loving Terry.  We had a good life together and I have some incredible memories of that time.  I also will never be sorry for the love I have for Jerry.  We were put together by God's own hand, of that I am forever certain.

So, time marches on.  What was is now in the past.  What is will be a wonderful future shared with a man created just for me and for this time in my life.  I totally believe that and have confidence in the providence of my Creator!

There is a time for everything and time marches on...............


To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up 
that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, 
and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

 Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8  (KJV)