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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veterans Day

For as long as I could remember -- and until age seven -- my father, mother, sister and I lived on the second floor of 1 Elmer Street, a modest (and somewhat listing) three floor wooden apartment building. On one side was a semi paved driveway where all the cars would be parked and the coal truck would make deliveries using a metal trough funneled through a small basement window that deposited the coal directly into the bin in the basement.

In 1956, about this time of year, I remember sitting quietly with my Uncle Bob on the outdoor second floor landing steps of our building. He was leaning against the white wooden slats of the railing leading to the apartment below where my Grandmother lived. I leaned quietly against him.

Robert J. Depue was my father's younger brother who had fought in Korea. Uncle Bob was my godfather; we two had a special relationship. He had an easy smile and a hearty infectious laugh. Family rumor has it that my first successful steps were taken in his direction, wobbling across our small living room rug for the reward of a sip from his bottle of beer. I recall that he often wore a plaid flannel shirt, two buttons opened, with a white tee shirt visible. Uncle Bob would encourage me to crawl up into his lap or on his knee and he would hold me as I sat, my head against the soft flannel on his chest, safe and secure. In later years we would rough house or get in a tickle fight or sit together or play catch when he came to visit. Things changed when he had his own family to raise, but our families visited each other often and I always had a soft spot for him in my heart.

On this particular day I asked him a question and then watched him intensely as he answered.

'Uncle Bob' I started, 'there's veterans day and mumoreel day for soldiers. What's the difference -- how come there are two days?'

His rugged, craggy, pock-marked face topped with the crew cut he wore perpetually until the day he died stared ahead, somewhat pale; he became uncharacteristically quiet.

"Well, KerKer. One day is for all the soldiers who went to war and came back alive like me. That's Veterans Day. Memorial Day is for all the soldiers who got killed. They never saw their families again. A lot of them got buried far away from home."

He dug into his flannel shirt pocket, pulled out a pack of Camels, lit up and took a long drag,
exhaling through his nose and mouth at the same time.

"I am so glad you are my special girl and will never know what it's like to be so far away from home, outside in the cold pouring rain day and night. Soaked to the skin with heavy wet clothes on at the bottom of a ditch with water up to your ankles. The guns, the smell..". His voice drifted off as he kept staring ahead, in another world. He took another long drag, slowly exhaling through his nose, his jaw tight, its muscles taut and twitching. There was a very long pause and I saw him try to shake himself out of the place his memories had taken him. He picked me up, put me on his knee, gave me a big hug and a kiss on my forehead.

"Enough about that now, kiddo. Go get the pink ball and let's play catch". Getting down I saw a blue tatooed cross in the crook of his hand between the thumb and pointer finger I hadn't ever noticed before.

I never asked him about the days ever again. I never wanted to see that pained yet vacant look ever again.

Today we celebrate Veterans Day today in the United States. This same day in Canada and the United Kingdom is called Remembrance Day. A time to say thank you. A time to remember the current soldiers who will be veterans soon enough. May they be treated with honor and respect. No matter what our political views of this war or any prior military "conflict", let us in our own way express gratitude for the service rendered by those in our Armed Forces.

Prayer for the Armed Services (Book of Common Prayer, page 823)

Almighty God, we comment to your gracious care and keeping all
the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them
day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and
temptations; give them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may
be; through Jesus Christ, our merciful and righteous Judge. Amen .

More Or Less Church from the Geranium Farm Copyright © 2007 K.L.Joanna
Depue (DJ) - all rights reserved


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