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Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

Last week, in Part One, I wrote about seeds of rage. Seeds we see harvested on the nightly news and in the headlines. But these aren’t the only kind of seeds growing and being harvested in America.

Bundles of Bales 4

A friend read the following article in the Wall Street Journal and passed it on to me and now, I’m passing this on to you. ‘Cause you certainly won’t hear this on the evening news. But could you imagine what would happen if every town U.S.A. adopted the attitude and actions of the citizens of North Platte, Nebraska.

While the story in and of itself is wonderful and amazing, be sure to catch the information this wasn’t the first generation of North Platte citizens who planted seeds of a town united…when called on this isolated town in Nebraska again repeated what they had been taught for several generations.

Thank you, Wall Street Journal, and  Author, Bob Greene, for carrying this very important story on July 22, 2018. To see photos of this story go to Wall Street Journal and type in North Platte, Nebraska.

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We were overwhelmed,” said Lt. Col. Nick Jaskolski. “I don’t really have words to describe how surprised and moved we all were. I had never even heard of the town before.”

Col. Jaskolski, a veteran of the Iraq war, is commander of the 142nd Field Artillery Brigade of the Arkansas Army National Guard. For three weeks earlier this summer, the 142nd had been conducting an emergency deployment readiness exercise in Wyoming, training and sleeping outdoors, subsisting on field rations. Now it was time for the 700 soldiers to return to their base.

A charter bus company had been hired for the 18-hour drive back to Arkansas. The Army had budgeted for a stop to get snacks. The bus company determined that the soldiers would reach North Platte, in western Nebraska, around the time they would likely be hungry. The company placed a call to the visitors’ bureau: Was there anywhere in town that could handle a succession of 21 buses, and get 700 soldiers in and out for a quick snack?

North Platte said yes. North Platte has always said yes.

The community welcomed more than 700 service men and women, North Platte, Nebraska.

During World War II, North Platte was a geographically isolated town of 12,000. Soldiers, sailors and aviators on their way to fight the war rode troop trains across the nation, bound for Europe via the East Coast or the Pacific via the West Coast. The Union Pacific Railroad trains that transported the soldiers always made 10-minute stops in North Platte to take on water.

The townspeople made those 10 minutes count. Starting in December 1941, they met every train: up to 23 a day, beginning at 5 a.m. and ending after midnight. Those volunteers greeted between 3,000 and 5,000 soldiers a day. They presented them with sandwiches and gifts, played music for them, danced with them, baked birthday cakes for them. Every day of the year, every day of the war, they were there at the depot. They never missed a train, never missed a soldier. They fed six million soldiers by the end of the war. Not 1 cent of government money was asked for or spent, save for a $5 bill sent by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The soldiers never forgot the kindness. Most of them, and most of the townspeople who greeted them, are dead. And now, in 2018, those 21 busloads from the 142nd Field Artillery were on their way, expecting to stop at some fast-food joint.

“We couldn’t believe what we saw when we pulled up,” Col. Jaskolski said. As each bus arrived over a two-day period, the soldiers stepped out to be greeted by lines of cheering people holding signs of thanks. They weren’t at a fast-food restaurant: They were at North Platte’s events center, which had been opened and decorated especially for them.

“People just started calling our office when they heard the soldiers were on their way,” said Lisa Burke, the director of the visitors’ bureau. “Hundreds of people, who wanted to help.”

The soldiers entered the events center to the aroma of steaks grilling and the sound of recorded music: current songs by Luke Bryan, Justin Timberlake, Florida Georgia Line; World War II songs by Glenn Miller, the Andrews Sisters, Jimmy Dorsey. They were served steak sandwiches, ham sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, deviled eggs, salads and fruit; local church groups baked pies, brownies and cookies.

Mayor Dwight Livingston stood at the door for two days and shook every soldier’s hand. Mr. Livingston served in the Air Force in Vietnam and came home to no words of thanks. Now, he said, as he shook the hands and welcomed the soldiers, “I don’t know whether those moments were more important for them, or for me. I knew I had to be there.”

“It was one soldier’s 21st birthday,” Lisa Burke said. “When I gave him his cake, he told me it was the first birthday cake he’d ever had in his life.” Not wanting to pry, she didn’t ask him how that could possibly be. “I was able to hold my emotions together,” she said. “Until later.”

When it became time to settle up—the Army, after all, had that money budgeted for snacks—the 142nd Field Artillery was told: Nope. You’re not spending a penny here. This is on us.

This is on North Platte.”

Mr. Greene’s books include “Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen.”

 

*          *          *          *          *          *

These seeds are called KINDNESS, GRATITUDE, CARING, RESPONSIBILITY, OBEDIENCE, AND LOVE!

Fence and bales

The parents and grandparents during World War II planted seeds these next generations in North Platte would harvest, and their children and their children’s children will continue to harvest these seeds as long as they are careful to plow and reseed as God instructs.

The people of North Platte didn’t ask these young men and women if they were liberal or conservatives—Republican or Democrat—they were Americans—American soldiers who were giving their lives so we can be free. The people from this generous city chose to stand in the gap for these young heroes, knowing united we succeed, divided we fail.

We might want to ask all news media why they didn’t cover this story? I guess without   violence or name calling it’s not an attention getter…well, this story certainly got my attention and changed Part Two of this series.

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 NKJ).

He also said, “As you go preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:7-8 NKJ).

But God’s Word said, “They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7 NKJ)

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of whirlwinds, I think it is time to plow the prairie’s, fields, cities, and towns of America planting Gospel seeds in each and every metropolis, city, town, and county in this nation before America follows Venezuela down the path to suicide.

Part Three…next week!

 

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Tall and lanky, Roberto joined our Vacation Bible School at an inner-city park in Houston, Texas. This sixth grader’s enormous dark chocolate eyes spilled-over with a sadness that made him appear older than his twelve years. But Roberto was the first to arrive each day for VBS.

Now summertime in Texas arrives the day after Easter, so by the time school was out and Bible School began the temps were scorching by 10 AM. Add humidity to the equation and it was a recipe for wring-and-droop. What I would have given for a clean towel to wipe the sweat that dripped from every pore.

The week progressed and I learned this young man was a budding artist. He had five brothers and sisters and their family lived in an apartment complex and shared a bathroom with two other families. Paper, paint and brushes were not on this family’s shopping list.

The last day of Bible School we had a picnic for the children complete with food, games, and gifts. Roberto’s gift was paper, paints, brushes, and socks—three pair of athletic socks. Those sad brown eyes turned to sparkles and he exclaimed “thank you” over and over again. Would any of our children be exuberant over a small sack of inexpensive gifts like those? Probably not. Hugs were shared and we boarded the bus back to our church in the suburbs.

I arrived home hot and grimy. The first thing on the agenda? A bath. Filling the tub to the top I slid into the refreshing water and Roberto’s family—sharing a bathroom with more than fifteen people—flashed through my mind. Face to face with his reality had made an indelible mark on my heart.

A tornado ripped across town the week before and many of those folks were displaced from their homes—no personal soak time for them either—and no clean, dry, towels.

I pulled a fluffy towel from the rack, inhaled the scent of my favorite fabric softener, and was ashamed of my ingratitude. Like those lepers Jesus healed who forgot to say thank you, I had never even thought to say thank you for my bathroom, the water, or the clean, dry, towels.

Surrounded by a mountain of provisions from my Lord God I had failed to thank Him for running water, a pantry filled with food, plates to eat on, a car to drive, grass to run through, flowers to enjoy, family, friends—the list of blessings goes on and on. For goodness sake! A washing machine to do the laundry. And I don’t thank Him. The majority of people all over this earth lack these conveniences. God has blessed my family beyond measure and I haven’t even thought to thank Him. How about you?

I learned from Roberto never to complain when I must wait for anyone to vacate a bathroom. And I’m now grateful to fold a load of laundry—anytime—‘specially those clean, dry, towels.

            “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful unto Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good. His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations.” KJV Psalm 100:4-5

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