Sunday, May 24, 2009

In Memoriam

As Memorial Day weekend gets into full swing, I would like to take a moment to remember and thank all of those who have served and died for this nation and, to thank one in particular - my uncle, Earl G. Thurman. He passed away a few years ago after living a long and fruitful life, but he almost did not get the chance to live that life. At the age of only 19 years old, he answered his country’s call to service during WWII and went as an Army soldier to the Pacific theatre. Shortly thereafter he was taken prisoner by the Japanese. He spent 4 hellish years in torture, slavery, and starvation. There was no “Geneva Convention” in a Japanese prison camp. He witnessed unspeakable horrors at an age that most kids his age today can only imagine in video games and horror movies and he was well into his 70’s before he would talk in any detail about his experiences.

He was quite simply my hero. He survived. He survived because of his faith in God. I did not know until he died, and I read the news articles posted at his funeral, that none of the prisoners knew what was going on outside their prison camp. My uncle had no idea that we were winning the war, but he had faith that God would not forsake him. One day his prayers were answered, and his guards and torturers left, just walked away. Shortly after that, the American airplanes began to fly over. God had not forsaken him. He returned to his small town in Texas at the age of 23 years, 6’3” and 110 lbs. My grandmother spent a long time fattening him up on her good Southern cooking. He got medals and his picture in the local paper. He went on to marry and have a daughter, to graduate from college, and to spend the next 60 years honoring his family, his country, and his God.

I was 30 years old before it occurred to me how young he was when he was taken prisoner. It was a revelation to me and it made me ashamed of my rather selfish and carefree life. Bless you, Uncle Earl. I miss you, but I know that you are at the right hand of God and I hope you are getting to play lots of golf!


AndrewPrice said...

Bev, thanks for the article. I think it's important that people remember and think about what those who came before us suffered through to protect our freedoms, especially in this politically correct age where "historians" try to canonize our enemies, question all of our actions and motives, and dismiss the sacrifices and dangers that our country and its people faced.

Unknown said...

Bev: Glad to see your post back up. I commented earlier, but it disappeared during the tweak.

That is a wonderful story. The camp wasn't by any chance the one depicted in The Great Raid was it? That movie was nearly perfect in every way. But since it was patriotic, and depicted the horrors of the Japanese POW camps and the inhumanity of the Japanese military, it was too politically-incorrect and historically accurate to get the positive reviews and audiences it should have had.

Your uncle and mine would have been great friends if they had ever had a chance to meet each other. We have both been blessed by their lives.

SQT said...

What a great post Bev.

It's way too easy to forget the sacrifices our troops make. My father-in-law served in Vietnam and he doesn't talk about it much, though he was lucky in that he was a pilot and got to fly over the war. But the thought of capture was always on their minds, especially when you consider how many missiles they were dodging every time they went on a bombing run. He told us how they had very slim knives sewn into their flight suits in case they were shot down and captured. Always planning on fighting until the end-- that's our men.

Captain Soapbox said...

That was an excellent post Bev, and I'm not ashamed to admit I got a little misty there. I hope your Uncle Earl wins a few now and then too.

Unknown said...

Thank you Bev for the article. I lost a grandfather and three great uncles in World War II. My father always instilled in me, the importance of the military and to never forget the sacrifices made by the men and women who served.

Writer X said...

Bev, I'm touched deeply by your post. There's a reason why the people of that generation were called The Greatest Generation.

There have been other "Greatest Generations" since then too, including the generation of incredible men and women currently serving. I'm humbled by their determination and sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

Bev, you sound like a Great American with God in your life. It is wonderful that you take time to remember another Great American, your Uncle. Al Brown, your Irving neighbor

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