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Giving Thanks, Lost Stories, Honoring Veterans, Freedom
November 27, 2015

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In Today's Chat

1. Today's quote

2. Giving Thanks, World War II Pilots, Veterans, Lost Stories, Dutch Resistance of Nazis, and Freedom

Today's Quote

Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.

The soul that knows it not, knows no release

From little things;

Knows not the livid loneliness of fear

Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear

The sound of wings.

--Courage, by Amelia Earhart, author and American aviation pioneer, 1897-1937

Lost stories of our elders, courage, and giving thanks

My father was a fighter pilot during World War II. He was part of the renowned Chinese-American Composite Wing that fought against the Japanese who occupied China.

These brave pilots hammered the Japanese throughout China, both on the ground and in the air.

My father even shot down a Japanese Lily bomber.

Then, on October 7, 1944, just 20 years old and on his 16th combat mission, my father’s P-40 fighter plane was shot down behind Japanese lines. He crash landed without parachuting out and was injured in the landing (for which he received a Purple Heart).

For two weeks he evaded capture by Japanese soldiers who were hunting him down. Only because of the help my father received from Chinese peasants, who hated the Japanese, was he able to slowly make his way back to his air squadron’s home base.

The day after he returned to base, he was up and flying combat missions again.

Thankfully, Captain Jim Silver survived flying 32 combat missions during the war or I would not be here writing this.

Honoring our veterans

A few weeks ago at Veteran’s Day, my father was guest of honor at the Olympia Air Museum in Washington.

They had an honor guard, then a narrative of his military career, sharing the story of his service and being shot down in China. During the ceremony, at 92 years old, dad climbed back into a warplane’s cockpit. The Olympia Air Museum was showing off its new Corsair fighter plane.

Here’s a picture of my father (circled in red) with other pilots in the summer of 1943.

And here’s a picture of the old bird in a Corsair in 2015.

Resisting Nazis and cherishing our freedom

It’s interesting to note that it’s not just soldiers who fight for freedom. All good people must unite to fight tyranny.

A perfect example is my father’s 87-year-old girlfriend Rita. She went with him to the Olympia ceremony.

Last year, the first time I met Rita, I had an opportunity to sit down alone with her. I knew nothing about her and I simply asked “Tell me about your life.”

My goodness. The next thing I knew, in her heavy Dutch accent, she began to pour out memories that had collected dust in her mind for decades.

In May 1940, when she was 11 years old, German soldiers invaded her little village in the Netherlands. The Nazis were brutal and ruthless.

She told me the Nazis took her gentle, fun-loving older brother away and imprisoned him. He was forced to pick up dead German bodies during the Allied bombing of Berlin.

After the war he returned home but was never the same. He could not forget the horrors he saw.

The Nazis also stole all the food and starved the Dutch people. Great famine swept through the Netherlands.

People tried to hide their pigs and chickens but the Nazis would beat people up and force them to say where their food stocks were.

Rita said she and her family starved for five years because there was no food. They lived on ferns, nettles, and weeds from the woods. Her mother would cook them up in a pot.

Fighting evil

Rita was a member of the Dutch resistance against the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in World War II.

Barely a teenager, she did what she could to fight for her freedom and dignity.

She told me stories of how the Nazis would line people up in the town square of her village and shoot them down. They wanted to know what members of the town were part of the Dutch resistance.

Pure evil. The same things we see today on the news.

Rock, paper, scissors

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I want to say thank you to my father.

And thank you to other veterans, including my late brother who put his life on the line fighting with the 101st Airborne Division in the Vietnam War.

If we think of life as if it was a game of rock, paper, scissors, then wisdom beats ignorance…love beats hate…and good beats evil.

So thanks also to good people like Rita who fought and still fight against evil in our world.

You know, we are all so caught up in our own lives. Yet it’s amazing what we learn when we ask another “Tell me about your life.”

I wonder what heroic tales or fascinating life tidbits your elders have to tell you and your family.

On this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I hope they'll get a chance to share some of the lost stories they carry with them.

Life is a journey. Keep exploring.


Rich Silver
Sleep & Health Writer
P.O. Box 95
Dahlonega, GA 30533
Sleep Passport

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