Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Remembering a Stalwart Generation (by Peter A. Black)

As I contemplated Remembrance Day 2016, I recalled some First and Second World War veterans I’d met personally over the years, and also several who’d served in other conflicts, including the Korean War.

Some were members of congregations I’d served or of Royal Canadian Legion branches in various communities. Generally, those vets impressed me with their stalwart bearing and sense of duty, and especially their loyalty to our country.
That generation had come through the Great Depression of the Thirties and the rise of fascism in Europe. The noxious scent of entitlement seemed absent from them, although I couldn’t miss recognizing the occasional expression of disgust over its prevalence in our current society. 
However, today I’m thinking of two ladies who served on home soil during WWII. Bessie who  was involved in munitions work in Brantford, Ontario, is in her mid-nineties. I’m scheduled to lead a Remembrance Day service in the retirement residence where she lives, and I hope to see her there.
Rev. & Mrs. A. Brndjar with Mrs. Doris Ley -- 100th B-Day!
Doris Ley is another great stalwart of WWII, who served on home soil. She was the guest of honour at the country Baptist Church where my octogenarian friend Andy (the Reverend Andrew Brndjar) is long-term interim pastor. On Thanksgiving Sunday Andy led the congregation in a combined Thanksgiving Service and Celebration of Doris’ 100th Birthday. I was honoured to play organ and sing a song of thanksgiving at that event.
Andy took his text from Ecclesiastes chapter 12, in which Israel’s King Solomon describes in allegorical language the changes that often happen as people age. Bottom line: they typically experience a decline in various physical faculties, and in some cases, loss of cognitive function.
Doris is, however, blessed with an amazing level of sustained health. Her sight and hearing are good, and she can still walk unaided, except for steadying herself with a walker. She’s always coiffed and smartly-dressed. Besides, her mind and memory are amazingly sharp, and it’s perhaps surprising
Courtesy: Canadian Harvard Association
that she has a full complement of her own natural teeth.
It was appropriate that this lady and her late husband enjoyed some retirement years together in Tillsonburg, Ontario, which is the home of the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association. (The Harvards—painted distinctively in bright yellow—were used in training pilots during WWII.)
I say “appropriate,” because Doris Ley, in the course of her significant career as an engineering metallurgist, worked on the famous Lancaster Bombers during the war. Therefore, understandably, living close to the vintage Harvards was evocative for her.
Courtesy: Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum
The Lancasters played an important role in behalf of our country and its allies. Doris’s knowledge and understanding of her professional field gave birth to innovative ideas in helping solve problems that occasionally arose with them. Several years ago she enjoyed the thrill of being taken on a brief flight in one of only two Lancasters in the world that are currently flight-worthy.
Significant to Doris’s life is her active Christian faith and the investment of wisdom, faith, hope and love she made in the lives of young people through a Bible class she facilitated, continuing until well into her 80s.
Doris, now resident in another community, continues to take an active interest in what’s going on around her and in the world at large, and readily shares out of her professional experience and her many decades of confident trust in God.
Here’s to Doris and Bessie and those men and women who served and those currently serving at home and abroad to maintain our freedoms and help people of other countries have them too.
 God bless'em every one. . . God bless’em!
Peter A. Black lives in Southwestern Ontario. He writes a weekly inspirational newspaper column, P-Pep! and is author of Raise Your Gaze ... Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart, and Parables from the Pond.


Eleanor Shepherd said...

Peter, I enjoyed your accounts of these remarkable ladies. We had a friend who flew one of the Lancaster planes that you talk about. He was a remarkable man who served his country well also. It is good to remember the heroes who have gone before us. Thank you for the timely reminder. Glad to hear that you are still playing and singing.
Warm regards,

Peter Black said...

Thank you for the encouragement, Eleanor. I'm grateful for the measure of health and strength that permits me to still be engaged in this work. It's a joy to see the touch of God registering on people's faces as the Holy Spirit works grace in their hearts.~~+~~
May God's richest blessings continue upon you and your ministry.
P.S. I met a couple in a St. Catharines MacDonald's who said that their relative (son or nephew) was the pilot who flew the restored Lancaster to Britain last year.

Rose McCormick Brandon said...

Yes, cheers for these two women who lived godly and productive lives!!

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