EARLEY: Adventures and heroes this Memorial Day
By Al Earley
One of my favorite memories growing up was the High Adventure Canoe trip to Maine I took with scout Troop 315. I was 14 years old, and clearly the youngest and smallest in the crew. I had held my own canoeing. When the layover day arrived we were scheduled to go to a water fall that fed a great white water run and paddle them in two-man duckies (small rubber canoes). I was crushed when all the older scouts paired off with one another and left me by myself.
My scoutmaster, Paul Reid, looked at me with enthusiasm and announced, “Come on Al, let’s go attack some white water.” We walked up to the waterfall, jumped in our duckie, and were off on a great adventure. In one section we hit a rooster tail of water that blasted both of us out of the duckie. We got in a sitting position and rode the rapids safely until we could retrieve our duckie. Paul praised me for how tough I was. We walked back up to the water fall and rafted all day long. His confidence in me gave me confidence in myself. It was the day that changed the way I looked at the world. My test, my rite of passage, when I knew I had what it took to be a man. I wasn’t one, but I thought I was.
It was also the day I fell in love with adventure. I have since learned that we were created for adventure. Look at how Moses describes the Garden of Eden that God gave Adam and Eve. In Genesis 2:10-11 we read, “A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold.” The text goes on to describe the Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates Rivers and where they flow. It was an adventurer’s paradise.
As we come up on this Memorial Day weekend I want to invite you to look for and go on an adventure. Our lives can easily become to sedentary and comfortable. We lose track of how we were created to live. Sit down with your spouse, kids, or grandkids, and find an adventure. How long has it been since you went on a boat ride, hike, shot your gun, or went on a road trip. It is time to get some adrenaline flowing in your blood stream and live!
The next thing I want to invite you to do is remember. Remember a war hero that is from your family or a friend, and tell their story to someone else. Remember to go to a Memorial Day celebration. Go to a Soldier’s Memorial Cemetery and thank God for the sacrifice of those brave men and women who gave the greatest sacrifice for our nation.
The reason I was thinking about Paul Reid was because his wife called me up in October 2008 and shared that her husband had passed away at the age of 86. He said the only thing he wanted at his funeral was for me to officiate. I was so honored that a man who had impacted my life so much wanted me to officiate his funeral. As I prepared for the funeral I found out much more about my scoutmaster. Paul Reid was a war hero. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, which was the last German offensive of World War II. The Germans unleashed a blitzkrieg against the allied lines in a surprise attack in Ardennes, Belgium. For two days they won the day, and their victories made the allied battle front look like it had a bulge. At one point Paul was Missing in Action, and would receive the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his heroism in the battle. The death toll included 100,000 Germans and 81,000 Americans. It was the unofficial end of World War II. Many boys became men in that battle. I don’t know when Paul became a man, but I knew he was a man on our white water trip. His confidence, poise, and strength helped me to grow up, and to this day I get misty eyed remembering how this wonderful man impacted my life.
Find a way to remember the great men and women of the military that have paved the way for us to enjoy the freedom and liberty they have passed down to us. Freedom and liberty are precious gifts that can be easily lost as history teaches us. Have a happy Memorial Day celebration and God bless America!
To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see www.lagrangepres.org.