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May 25, 2012

Memorial Day Coolness
Filed under: People Skills — Tags: — nedpelger

Every Memorial Day, for as long as I can remember, I stood with my Dad in Lititz and watched our small town Memorial Day Parade. Cub Scouts and Brownies, a kid’s dance troupe, the community band, fire trucks and Army jeeps, a few Veterans in their old, tight uniforms march through the streets for a short parade. As a kid my Dad remembers Civil War Veterans walking in this same parade.

We see lots of folks we know, exchanging the same pleasantries year after year, then we walk up to the┬ácemetery. A service honoring the Veterans follows. Dad served in the Pacific in World War II, at the Battle of Okinawa then later picking up POWs from China and Japan. He always refuses to step forward when they honor Navy vets, saying, “I was paid. I don’t see what all the fuss is about.”

He goes to the service every year to honor his best friend from high school, Bobby Kline, who died while fighting in Germany. Dad always had a distaste for glorifying war and the many lies that emanate from it. He taught me to be skeptical of everything I hear from anyone about war experiences. In the 1945 photo below, he’s taking a bite of the apple.

I’m blessed to still have my Dad (at nearly 86) to hang out with. He’s still one of the coolest people I know.

Since Memorial Day encourages us to contemplate those that have touched our lives and passed on, I also tend to think about an artist friend who died about 20 years ago. I recently wrote a Letter to the Editor responding to a memorial article about him.

To the Editors:

The article on David Brumbach brought back some of my life’s best memories.

I was one of the five speakers at his funeral service. As I prepared those words, I knew he wanted me to try to explain his love of Jesus.

Since David was such a reserved and gentle person, many of his friends didn’t know about his deep Christian beliefs. The fruits of his life were obvious to see, but the underlying cause wasn’t.

We had many conversations about the reality of the Holy Spirit filling us and guiding our lives. We often laughed that we both, at some level, wished we were Amish men.

I remember sitting at his wedding, tears streaming down my cheeks as he struggled to stand to say the vows. That marriage ceremony brimmed with courage and integrity. David simply didn’t let circumstances control his life.

One of my most cherished possessions is a book David gave me, titled “Disciplines for the Inner Life.” Written by Bob Benson, who also died young from cancer, the book remains one of the best study guides for peace and wisdom.

My favorite and best memory of David, though, came from a visit a few days before he died. As we sat and joked a bit, he suddenly got serious. He explained that he felt so guilty that he knew he should be struggling harder to stay alive for his new wife and son. Then he said, “But I can see Heaven, and it’s so beautiful. I just want to go.”

That statement, from one of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever had the privilege to know, forever deepened my faith. So, David, my friend, thank you.

To quote the last words of another devout friend’s wife, who also died from cancer, “I’ll see you in a second.”

Ned Pelger

Have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend. Take some time to think about those that have walked with you and made your life better. Think about how you can help make someone else’s life better. Live the dream, baby. Live the dream.