A Teacher’s Greatest Thrill

Some people work for a large, satisfying paycheck. Others work for the public and private recognition they receive from appreciative customers or clients. And some others work for the opportunities for rapid advancement to even higher levels or the deep, inner sense of accomplishment that their jobs give them.

I must admit that I’ve never been driven by a paycheck, titles and positions of prominence, the process of climbing the ladder of success, or prestigious perks that any job promised. (I guess my only ambition in that respect was to have an office with a window, which I never did achieve until I began freelancing and could look out the upstairs window of my house!) Maybe I just lacked initiative or ambition. The various points along the continuum of my working life have never offered a whole lot of recognition, either public or private. As an admitted introvert, perhaps that’s the way I preferred it.

Instead, the greatest thrills I’ve had in my career have been seeing my former students excel in their callings. Some  former students of both sexes have excelled in business, law, government, education, and pastoral ministry. Many of the girls have grown up to become godly mothers. But the thrill has been most gratifying when those callings found former students using what they had learned and working for a cause greater than themselves rather than pursuing merely materialistic endeavors.

My wife and I had to privilege of hosting one such former student for lunch this past weekend. We first got to know Lisa when she was only a second-grade student. She was enrolled in the second-grade class next door to my wife’s room. Lisa’s parents were good friends of my parents and attended the same church. I got to know Lisa when she was a student in the junior and senior English classes I taught. She was a model student: quiet, soft-spoken, but articulate when called upon; attentive; inquisitive; eager to both learn and excel at her studies; and always striving to do her best.

Perhaps the most illustrative symbol I had of Lisa’s dedication as a student was a research paper she did for me during her junior year. Whereas many students gave the assignment little forethought, waited until the last minute to choose a research topic, and then muddled their way through the process and produced mediocre papers, Lisa had a workable topic early in the selection process. She worked faithfully and consistently through the process of preparing the paper. And the result of her work was exemplary at every step of the production process. For years thereafter, I used Lisa’s paper as a model for other students. This past weekend, I mentioned that paper in our too-brief time of conversation, and Lisa admitted that she still had it among her collection of memorabilia. She had done her best, produced exemplary work, and was rightfully proud of the end product.

But Lisa did more than write an exemplary research paper. She graduated as valedictorian, attended college, and excelled, earning her degree in nursing and pursuing a successful medical career. She later taught a biology lab class for our local homeschool cooperative on the side. Partially as a result of her enthusiasm and thoroughness in that classroom environment, one of our own daughters majored in nursing, earning her BSN and having her own career in medicine.

But Lisa had even higher expectations for herself. It was during that year of teaching the lab class that Lisa sensed a higher call, the call to medical missions work in Bangladesh. Leaving a successful, well-paying career in nursing, she ventured out in response to that call and has been pursuing it faithfully ever since.

From that mission field, Lisa sent her supporting churches and individuals regular written updates of her work, the needs there, and the successes she witnessed and was a part of. She hosted numerous government officials, both of the host country and of the United States, including former U.S. senator of Tennessee Bill Frist. And her newsletters always exemplified the best practices of writing: they inspired, informed, persuaded, and occasionally even entertained. They grabbed the readers’ attention early and held it right to the very end, and they persuaded her readers to pray for and support her work on the field. In all her years of service, she has never been below 100 percent support, an unusual feat, if you know anything about foreign missionary work.

Lisa is driven by ambition, but it’s not an ambition for personal advancement or aggrandizement; it’s an ambition to pursue even greater opportunities for service to others. She is now back in the United States seeking to pursue her PhD in nursing education, which will open doorways of service as an international nursing consultant, opportunities that would otherwise not be open to her. Her career has not been about herself; it has been about others.

As my wife and I listened to how God has led in Lisa’s life and ministry, we could not help but be proud of her and her accomplishments. We know that we played only a small part in her work–in fact, her achievements have been more in spite of our involvement than because of it–but we rejoice in seeing how the Lord has blessed her work. She and her ministry have been more than repayment for our work as teachers.

Perhaps John the Apostle stated our feelings best: “I have no greater joy that to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4). Although we have no blood relationship, Lisa has been like one of our children. And she’s done us proud. More importantly, I think the Lord Himself would say of her, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

 

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A Brief Step Back in Time

My wife, a second-grade teacher, usually has her mind, even during her summer vacation, on school-related matters. Sometimes, that leads us on excursions to scout out sites of potential field trips for her classes. I usually go along for the ride, unless it somehow deals with history.

That’s what we were doing yesterday. For several years, she had heard about the Hagood Mill, a location that she thought might be a good field-trip venue for second graders–an example of a small mountain settlement, including restored log cabins, grist mill, a cotton gin, blacksmith shop, pottery shed, and even a moonshine still. It even sounded of interest to me. After all, my own ancestors came from such humble beginnings (minus the still, I hope) in the mountains of western North Carolina, and it’s always good to remember where you’ve come from.

“Since Saturday is your birthday,” I said to her, “I’ll even take you out for lunch at some quaint local eatery near the rustic village.”

My wife readily agreed, and off we went, camera in hand. Since it was hot and projected only to get hotter, we took water bottles. “Don’t forget a couple of power bars,” I called over my shoulder as I headed for the garage. She got the water; she hadn’t heard my comment about food, so we had none.

The village was out in the middle of nowhere, much farther out than I ever dreamed it might be. En route, we passed a couple of seedy-looking eateries, one calling itself a cafe, the other named a diner. “Keep them in mind,” I muttered, hoping that we would find something better farther down the road.

Arriving at the site, we entered the office and inquired about a tour. It was supposed to be a self-guided tour, the lady at the desk told us. We looked around the gift shop briefly. It didn’t take more than a brief glance to cover everything inside. Then I asked the lady what she could tell us about the site before we embarked on our self-guided tour. My eyes glazed over quickly as she mumbled about something or other. But then she mentioned something that caught my ear: petroglyphs.

“Would you like to see the petroglyph exhibit?” she asked. “I’ll show them to you if you’re interested.” She moved toward the door before we could reply. We followed dutifully.

Petroglyphs are drawings left carved on stones by ancient peoples. (In our area, that could have been Cherokees, but it might also have been some earlier peoples.) The meanings of the drawings are unknown. Were they mere artistic renderings? Were they messages of some sort? “Good place for hunting.” “Good place for medicinal plants.” “Dangerous place for poisonous snakes.” (That was my thought as I later wandered in and out of and around the various buildings! They and the nearby stream provided excellent hiding places on a hot day for the venomous, slithering creatures.) I watched my steps as much as I did the historic features of the place.

The exhibit in the building that had been erected over the large, rounded stone on which some ancient inhabitants of or wayfarers through the area had drawn the petroglyphs was as-yet unfinished. What was there seemed interesting at a glance, but we had no time to do more than glance because our hostess ushered us through a door with a sign reading “Program in Progress” and into a dark room. As my eyes adjusted to the alternating yellow, red, and blue lights that were scattered around the edges of the exposed rock, I noticed that suspended over the edges of the rock on three sides of the room was a concrete walkway lined by a metal rail. A recorded narration was playing over the audio system. With a wave of her hand and a hasty “Goodbye,” our hostess disappeared. We spent several minutes looking for the petroglyphs, taking photos when we found them, and finished listening to the narration. (The photo shows one set of them, human figures enclosed in some sort of domicile with a little cupola on top. Many others were too small and faint for the camera to pick up.)

We then returned to the outer room, read the displays, and watched the audio-visual presentation. Leaving the petroglyph exhibit, we proceeded through the grist mill, cabins, and other buildings. We had seen many similar structures elsewhere before, most notably in the Smokies, but it was still interesting. The grounds around them were meticulously manicured, and volunteers were spreading mulch, picking up twigs and leaves that had blown down in a recent storm, and otherwise working to keep the grounds beautiful. (Shown here are a few representative glimpses of the buildings we saw.)

My wife injected a moment of levity into the otherwise somber and serene scene. I feared momentarily, however, that I had lost her. She seemed to have fallen for someone more suave and debonaire than I, a young man from the hills. But after a brief fling with him, she returned to my arms.

By the time we had finished, it was past my normal lunch time, and my stomach was letting me know it. We retraced our tracks, hunting for a place to eat. We hadn’t seen any but the two questionable-looking eateries on the way in. Both of them were by that time crowded to the gills with numerous construction crews. We chose to persevere and find something closer to home. We ended up dining at two other places we had long wanted to visit but hadn’t for lack of opportunity. Hunger has a way of creating the opportunity. We grabbed an Asian wrap and a Great American cheeseburger at the Whistle Stop Cafe followed by ice cream dessert from Pink Mama’s, both quaint and unusual businesses in Travelers Rest, South Carolina.

Now we know.

 

Copyright (c) 2018, Dennis L. Peterson

Historical Interpretation

History is subject to many interpretations. The same historical event can be explained in several ways by different historians, depending on each scholar’s worldview. As Will Rogers quipped, “I doubt if there is a thing in the world as wrong or unreliable as history. History ain’t what it is; it’s what some writer wanted it to be. . . .”

But a responsibility of Christian teachers is to instill in the students a loving and respectful acceptance of the Christian view of history, that is, what God wants history to be. “A nation thrives or perishes,” Herbert Hoover declared, “upon what it believes to be true.”

Let each teacher encourage his or her students to accept the truth of God and realize with Longfellow that

Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time.

[Excerpted from p. 191, Teacher: Teaching and Being Taught, Copyright, Dennis L. Peterson, 2017]

Coming Home

Home.

There’s nothing like it, especially when one is returning to it after a long vacation.

It’s not just a general coming back home that makes the difference. It’s a return to familiar surroundings, to the sounds and smells that have become a regular part of one’s life. It’s the comfort of knowing where things are and of being able to go directly and automatically to that place without having to search for them. It’s the ease with which one does everyday things, like shaving and showering, without worrying about being quiet lest one wake others who are sleeping later than you.

Coming home offers the comfort of relaxing in one’s own chair, even with its annoying creak or pop when one sinks into it or rises from it. And it’s impossible to describe the comfort of lying in one’s own bed. No matter how nice and comfortable the other beds might have been, they can never compare to one’s own mattress (even if it sags) and pillow and sheets and blankets.

Returning home also means a return to one’s familiar routine, the regular activities that one has tended to engage in with hardly a thought. The quiet time of devotions and cup of coffee in the still morning hours before anyone else in the house has begun to stir. The early walk with one’s spouse in the cool (or, here in the South, the more likely humid) air. The periods of sustained, uninterrupted writing. All of the routine activities that have been disturbed by the vacation. But it still takes one a while to get back into that routine.

Yet, coming home also includes missing certain things that, over two weeks, had become, even if only for a few days, the new routine, the new normal. The early rising of the grandchildren as they greet you with a shy smile while stepping slowly down the stairs from their bedroom. The still, close cuddling that begins your day with them. The laughter of young voices as they fully wake and begin their play. There are the mornings spent with individual grandchildren, when you showered each child with your undivided attention and you saw their individual personalities come alive without the accompanying influence of siblings. And there are the memories of afternoons spent in whole-family activities. Exploring a park in search of hidden toad sculptures. Walking through a historic site and its gardens. And the chance to explore the shelves of an unfamiliar library.

There are the times of playing in the sandbox with other the granddaughters. Of trying to fit one’s adult (supersized at that) frame into a child’s “castle” or makeshift tent with the grandkids. Of following an active granddaughter from swings to merry-go-round to slides and other features in a community park, always with a hand ready to catch or steady youthful energy that is oblivious to the dangers of falls.

But. . . .

Returning also involves the jungle of a yard that is beginning to look like an English garden. It must be mowed and trimmed. And that in haste between morning showers and threatened afternoon thunderstorms. And when the accumulated mail arrives, there are the numerous bills to pay lest they become overdue and incur late fees. And the inevitable backlog of reading material that must be devoured–at some point, hopefully in the near future.

I think it was Thomas Wolfe who said, “You can’t go home again.” He was right. But it’s true only when one has been away from home for a long, long time. He was dead wrong about returning home after a two-week vacation. In that case, you can go home again. And it is so good.

But it’s also good to cherish the time spent with children and grandchildren. Memories that will remain with you forever. And some vestige of which you hope will remain in their memories, too.

Copyright (c) 2018

Dealing with Rejection

Okay, let’s be perfectly clear from the start about this: I’m referring to rejection of your writing submissions, not of your personality or requests for dates or any other nonwriting-related issues. With that disclaimer out of the way, we look today at how one should react when something he or she has written, laboring long and hard over it, and submitted (after carefully studying the markets) for publication gets turned down. What can we learn about this issue from the words of success expert Napoleon Hill?

  1. “It isn’t defeat, but rather your mental attitude toward it, that whips you.”

This goes back to what an earlier post said about the attitude of the writer. It’s all a matter of perspective. Instead of looking at a rejection slip as failure or defeat, view it as simply the revelation of one publication that didn’t want what you wrote right now. You’ve eliminated one potential market, which means you are that much closer to finding the right market and the right readers for your work. And it’s only one editor’s opinion. A different editor with the same publication at a different time might have accepted it. Keep searching until you find that editor.

2. “No man is ever whipped, until he quits–in his own mind. . . . Failure seems to be nature’s plan for preparing us for great responsibilities.”

This statement, too, takes us back to the earlier statement on attitude. It’s all a matter of perspective. View a rejection as bringing you one step closer to finding the right publication and the right editor. Edison was not discouraged when an experiment with a particular filament material failed; he said that it just proved one more material that would not work, bringing him that much closer to finding the material that would.

3. “If the thing you wish to do is right, and you believe in it, go ahead and do it! Put your dream across, and never mind what ‘they’ say if you meet with temporary defeat, for ‘they,’ perhaps, do not know that every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent success.”

If one of your manuscripts gets rejected, don’t give up on it. If you’ve done your best writing, chosen your markets carefully, and otherwise done “due diligence” in seeking a publisher, send it back out to a second publisher. Or, if necessary, a third or fourth or. . . . Never give up on it. Even if it’s never published, you haven’t wasted time; the experience will have made you a better, wiser writer.

4. “The greatest cure known is work. . . . [Emotions] do not always respond to logic and reason. They do, however, respond to action.”

A rejection slip naturally produces disappointment, discouragement, perhaps even an intense feeling as though you might just quit. Those emotions are real and natural. If you didn’t feel those emotions and instead reacted gleefully to the rejection, something would surely be wrong! But the best way to kill those negative emotions is to work them to death. Seldom is anything as bad as it might at first seem. So immediately send the manuscript out to another editor. I try to follow a 24-hour rule: If I have an article manuscript rejected on Tuesday, I make it a point to find another potential market and submit it to that editor within 24 hours of receiving the rejection notice. Don’t sit around twiddling your thumbs or feeling sorry for yourself. Instead, get busy working on another manuscript. Before you know it, the sting of the earlier rejection will have disappeared, and you’ll be excited about the prospects of an acceptance from the resubmission of the article or the beginning of the new project.

5. “There is a vast difference between failure and temporary defeat. There is no such thing as failure, unless it is accepted as such. . . . When you view adversity as nothing more than a learning experience, your successes in life will far outnumber your failures.”

One rejection does not a failure make. Was Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) a failure? Certainly not, but his first book was rejected by 42 publishers before being accepted by the 43rd. You are a failed writer only if you quit. Don’t give up! Keep plugging away. Even “successful” writers get rejections, just as batting champs fail to get hits about 65-70 percent of the time.

6. “The average person would have quit at the first failure. That’s why there have been many average men and only one Edison. . . . [A]nything worthwhile never comes easily; if it were easy, anyone could do it.”

Writing is hard work. Good writing is even harder. Getting good writing published is harder yet. It is the writer who perseveres, who keeps writing and submitting even after having his or her work rejected time after time who is the real success. Be that person! What matters is that you don’t take the rejection personally; it’s not you but your words that have been rejected. What matters is the you keep writing and keep submitting. What matters is that you, true to your calling, enjoy your work. Put your thoughts on your next project, not on the last one.

7. “Failure is not a disgrace if you have sincerely done your best. . . . [I]f you are satisfied that you’ve done your best, don’t waste time reliving the past. . . . If you consistently do your best, your temporary failures will take care of themselves.”

Ultimately, the judge of the quality of your writing is not an editor somewhere. It’s your own estimation of your work because you know, deep inside your heart, if you’ve done your best. It’s the Judge of the Universe, the God who has given you your writing gift, who makes the ultimate rating of your work. I suspect that there will be writers in heaven whose work on this earth was rejected innumerable times by multiple editors who will hear the most important words of acceptance, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” If you do your writing for Him, rather than for a fallible human, your work is accepted.

Copyright (c) 2018, Dennis L. Peterson

 

Initiative and Action and Your Writing

We’ve seen already how Napoleon Hill offered some good advice that writers can apply to the attitude they take toward their work. That’s the starting point. But to be successful as writers, we must convert that positive attitude into published writing by taking the initiative, taking action! Here are a few things that Hill said about this topic. How can you turn his advice into actionable steps with your writing?

  1. “Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power only when, and if, it is organized into definite plans of action and directed to a definite end.”

You could read all the books in print about how to write, but if you don’t sit down and write, and then submit what you’ve written, you’ll never get published. There’s a limit to how much you need to know before you begin to submit. Keep learning, but begin submitting!

2. “Willpower is the outgrowth of definiteness of purpose expressed through persistent action, based on personal initiative.”

If your goal is to become a published author, you’ll have to take action by submitting what you’ve written. Wishing won’t make it so. And don’t expect luck to help you. Darryl Royal said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” You must act; make the opportunity. But to submit, you must have the self-discipline to produce the best writing of which you’re capable and the courage to submit it. That takes willpower. Do you have it?

3. “When you have talked yourself into what you want, stop talking and begin saying it with your actions.”

The first step is to plan how you will turn desires into actions. Then put the plan into play. Don’t delay. Do it now. Taking that first step will provide energy and initiative for the next step and the next. Write your piece. Identify potential markets. Submit!

4. “The person who complains that he or she never had a chance probably hasn’t the courage to take a chance.”

Every time you submit something you’ve written, you take a chance. It might be rejected. On the other hand, there’s a chance that it’ll be accepted for publication. You never know, but you have to take that chance. Don’t complain that you can’t get published if you aren’t doing something to make your work publishable. That means going out on a limb and taking a risk, submitting you work! Sure, it takes a lot of work and is risky. But it’s worth all that. Thomas Edison said that most people don’t recognize opportunity when it is in front of them because it’s often dressed in work clothes.

5. “Good intentions are useless until they are expressed in appropriate action.”

You say you intend to submit your work. Someday. But you never do so. Having the intention is fine, but if that’s as far as you get, you’re wasting your efforts in thinking about it. Nothing counts until you act on those intentions. Don’t be content to be a wannabe; make it happen by taking action. Submit your best writing to an appropriate market. It won’t happen if you don’t act to make it happen.

6. “Just what are you waiting for and why are you waiting?”

Writing success won’t just suddenly arrive on your doorstep looking for you. You have to send out the products of your writing to find where it is hiding. What manuscripts do you have hidden away in some drawer, closet, or file cabinet that you can polish up and submit today? Take the initiative and send it out!

Copyright (c) 2018, Dennis L. Peterson

 

Attitude and Your Writing

In my last post, I mentioned that Napoleon Hill offered words of wisdom that could be applied to one’s writing. Among the quotations from Hill that I have accumulated to date I’ve noticed four recurring themes: attitude, initiative and action, dealing with defeat, and purpose and goals. Today, I’d like to share several of his thoughts on attitude.

  1. “You come finally to believe anything you tell yourself often enough, even if it is not true.”

When your subconscious mind accepts something as truth, it will work overtime to transform the idea into physical reality. Don’t say, “I can’t.” Say, “I will.” And then get busy making it so. You can become the writer you want to be, but you’ll have to take action to make that happen. It won’t come to you as you sit passively. Get busy writing, studying potential markets for your work, and submitting.

2. “Your progress in life begins in your own mind and ends in the same place.”

You won’t make any progress in your writing career by sitting passively and dreaming of being a writer. Make your mind fertile ground for writing ideas through constant study and learning. Then discipline yourself to follow through on those ideas by producing written products from them.

3. “Remember, your mental limitations are of your own making.”

Most of us never really reach our optimum level of achievement because we don’t challenge ourselves to do so. Too often, we get a rejection slip from an editor and conclude that we are failures as writers. In doing so, we have set up that editor as the limit of our potential. Don’t let a rejection stop you. Submit again. And again. And yet again. If an editor offers suggestions for improving the piece, work on it. But keep submitting. Remember that Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) submitted his first book, And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street, to forty-two publishers before the forty-third one published it. (If he were a baseball player, his batting average would have been .023!) Don’t limit yourself; keep submitting your best stuff.

4. “When you close the door of your mind to negative thoughts, the door of opportunity opens to you.”

Approach every writing project with a positive mental attitude. In doing so, you will discover ideas and ways of stating things that others have overlooked. Recall those discoveries when you get discouraged. And remember, you can do it if you think you can!

5. “No one is ready for a thing until he believes he can acquire it. The state of mind must be belief, not mere hope or wish.”

Many people wish to be writers or hope one day to become writers, but few people are willing to act on their dreams or to take steps toward making them reality. Too many people don’t want to do the hard work of writing; they want to be known as writers without putting forth the effort that qualifies them to be called writers. Believe that your writing is good enough to be published, and then work to make it so! Stop wishing and start acting.

6. “Individuals with positive mental attitudes are never found in a rut.”

Always be on the lookout for new ideas or topics for your writing efforts. Keep an idea file. Writers who have a positive attitude somehow always manage to find something new and interesting to write about even in the most mundane tasks.

7. “No one can keep you down but yourself.”

Only you can determine your failure or success.  Not an editor. Not a self-appointed critic.  Take a good hard look at yourself, your abilities, and your opportunities, and then accept yourself for the person you are. Then take the actions necessary to become the person you wish to be. If you want to be a writer, assess where you are now, and then take whatever steps are necessary to become the writer you want to be. (See quotation No. 3 above.)

These quotations from Napoleon Hill (http://www.naphill.org ) helped me. I hope they are of encouragement to you in your writing, too.

Copyright (c) 2018, Dennis L. Peterson

Napoleon Hill Sayings Applied to Writing

If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you’ve discovered that I have gained a great deal of value from the writings of a couple of successful businessmen, W. Clement Stone and his frequent co-author Napoleon Hill. Although I was privileged to meet only one of them (Stone) in person, their practical wisdom has been of help to me many times during my careers in education and writing/publishing.

In fact, I get a daily e-mail “thought for the day” from the Napoleon Hill Foundation http://www.naphill.org that has included numerous offerings  helpful to me in my writing. Perhaps you would find some gems that will help you, too. (You can subscribe to the same “thought for the day” at the above link.) In subsequent posts, I will share a few of the quotations that have been of greatest inspiration to me.

I copy and paste into a Word document the Napoleon Hill posts that seem most applicable to my situation. Occasionally, I look over those accumulated statements for reaffirmation of my purpose and inspiration and encouragement to continue in my efforts. While doing that recently,  I realized that certain topics among the quotations recurred repeatedly. The most frequently mentioned subjects were

  1. attitude,
  2. initiative and action,
  3. dealing with defeat, and
  4. purpose and goals.

One’s attitude and outlook determine whether he or she will take actions toward fulfilling the primary purpose and the several goals for achieving that purpose. Anytime one takes the initiative and steps out in action, of course, he or she risks suffering defeat or rejection. How one deals with those setbacks often determines whether he or she is able to achieve success. So all four of these categories of thought work together for either success or failure.

In future blog posts, I will share several of Hill’s statements on each of these categories and apply them to the writing process. I hope that they will reveal ways that you can apply them to your own writing efforts.

Here’s a little teaser dealing with the need to continue looking for opportunities to learn and improve in our craft.

Don’t be satisfied with being good at your job. Be the best. . . . One of the surest ways to climb the ladder of success is to choose a job that you would do even if you didn’t earn much at it. (Napoleon Hill)

Now if that doesn’t describe writing, I don’t know what does! Periodicals are paying today about the same as they were when Mark Twain was writing–if you can get even that much. But if you’re called to write, then write, even when the money doesn’t follow immediately. But keep learning your craft, always improving your knowledge and skills and striving to be the best writer you can be. If you do, success will come eventually. Perhaps not in monetary terms, but in many other ways.

Check back for similar gems of Napoleon Hill’s wisdom, and find ways of applying them to your writing.

Copyright (c) 2018, Dennis L. Peterson

 

Thirteen Days Later. . . .

In our finite sense of time and events, we often lose our sense of perspective. We often mentally compress time and events without realizing that much more happened in the intervening time span than we think. Such it is with the invasion of Normandy during World War II.

We recently commemorated the June 6, 1944, Allied landings on Omaha, Utah, Sword, Gold, and Juno beaches that began the push that brought down the Third Reich. We then somehow jump mentally from the carnage along the beaches and cliffs of Normandy to the joining of U.S. and Russian forces at the Elbe, forgetting the long struggle that occurred among the hedgerows of the bocage, around the Falaise Gap, and in the fields of Belgium. We pause to recall the German surprise at the Bulge, but otherwise we tend to forget what took place between the initial clash on D-day and the celebrations of V-E Day.

On this date in history, June 19, 1944, my Uncle Dillon Summers had his own landing on Omaha Beach. He, a lowly, unassuming corporal, and the rest of the 391st Armored Field Artillery Battalion of the 3rd Armored Division assembled in a predesignated marshaling area, fired registration rounds from their 105 and 155 mm mobile gun platforms, and almost immediately engaged enemy targets. As they did so, the beaches were still under fire from German artillery. Thirteen days after the much-celebrated D-day landings.

Thirteen days later. That should tell us something about how hard the fighting was after the initial landings.

To identify the enemy artillery pieces that were raining death and destruction on U.S. troops on Omaha Beach, the 391st AFA had forward observers (FOs) who crept to the front-most edges of the battlefield, noted the location of the enemy guns, and radioed the coordinates back to the U.S. artillerists, who then unleashed their own death blows to the offending German artillery.

Uncle Dillon was one of the few soldiers assigned to get the FOs to that forward edge. Many such tank drivers, and even more FOs, never made it back. Dillon was wounded and won two Bronze Stars for valor while doing his job, and he made it back. He and others like him enabled the Allies, one enemy artillery piece and one enemy troop concentration at a time, to defeat a powerful, diabolical enemy.

That’s usually how it is. Whereas we often hear of the exploits of the generals and commemorate the single-day actions of divisions, we sadly forget that it is the grueling, day-to-day work of thousands of anonymous, unsung individual heroes who just faithfully do their jobs that make those big victories possible.

Who are the unsung heroes in your life? A teacher? A preacher? A parent?

Are you an unsung hero to someone because you are faithfully and consistently doing your job? Are your daily actions making it possible for someone else to gain victory in his or her life?

Someone may be watching and learning from your life. They might look upon you as their hero.

Think about it!

Copyright (c) 2018, Dennis L. Peterson