Tag Archive | remember

Remembering the Heroes of My Childhood


I was coming home from breakfast today and feeling blessed, thankful and a bit sentimental. I decided to drive off the beaten path and go by the VFW hall that was such a central part of my childhood. It was strange to see how much smaller the building and the property seemed to my adult eyes. It’s not my first drive past the place as an adult and yet it still gave me pause.

In that moment I could hear the sounds of the hustle and bustle of the busy place. I could close my eyes and see my friends and I running around, dancing by the jukebox and listening to the stories of our elders. I remember how excited I was to create a Jr. Girl’s Unit with my Mom. It was something we did that bonded us a bit more deeply to each other and to the community we loved and enjoyed.

I could almost smell the aftershave of all the heroes of my childhood as they would buy me a candy bar or ruffle my curly hair. I remember feeling safe there. Safe in the care of these adults who drank beer, watched sports on the TV, and told stories of yesteryear. But they did way more than that in my life. They taught me to honor the flag, to appreciate the sacrifices of those who traveled to faraway lands to fight and protect the freedoms that I often forgot I enjoyed. They showed me what service was and walked hand-in-hand with me as I learned those lessons. They created a fun and safe environment for my naive childhood to blossom.

Yes, I could hear them, and smell them, and feel them again today as I drove past that vacant building. It made this crisp, sunny autumn day come alive for me in a different way.

And then I remembered the season – I remembered standing outside the grocery store selling those little paper poppies in remembrance of these heroes. And I smiled, in anticipation and hope that someone will be standing at our grocery store this week with poppies. I will buy one and keep it with me as a token of thank you for those who came before. Thank you to my Grandpas – Jim and Juel, and my Dad. Those brave, loyal, tender, hardworking men who influenced my childhood and my life. I am blessed to have them shape my world and to embed a deep love of country, heroes, and family.

This week as we celebrate Veteran’s Day in the US – I honor those heroes who have been in my life – those of my childhood and the friends and neighbors that walk in my world today.

Be blessed heroes!

~ Barbara Bernard Miller

Remembering …

As we move into the U.S. Memorial Day weekend, I find myself pausing and thinking of my Grandpas who both served in WWII, and who are now passed away.  These two men (along with my Dad who I’m blessed to still have with me) are the face of patriotism in my life. I feel compelled to speak of them for a moment.

My Grandpas were part of the “Greatest Generation” as it has become known. My paternal Grandpa, Jim Miller, was an accountant. He was smart, patient, and quiet. His passion was playing cards and I have so many memories of family Euchre games in his basement. My maternal Grandpa, Juel Bernard, was a foreman for the gas and electric company. He was tan and fit from working outdoors. He was quiet but had a fantastic sense of humor and could fix just about anything. He was the man who taught me to dance a proper slow dance. He also had this half whistle/half hum that he would do that still is so fresh in my mind when I think of him.

They had such different personalities, skills, and backgrounds, but they had some very important things in common. Both had a gentle way about them and were kind men. I never saw either of them exhibit anything but love and generosity. They were honorable beyond question. Their word was their bond. If they said it, they meant it, and they did it. There was no room for them to turn away from family and all they committed to. However, the greatest common trait with these true gentle men was their bravery. I knew little of their service other than that they were in the Army and where they served,  because they kept facts close to the vest. I know that they saw the most horrific things and felt the extremes of emotions and yet neither would burden their loved ones with details.

I remember one Memorial Day I was at my maternal grandfather’s house to celebrate the holiday. We were sitting around the table enjoying the grilled delights as we always did. I asked Grandpa about his service. He was a medic in the Army and said that at the end of the war he was in one of the groups that went into one of the concentration camps. I wish I could remember which one he mentioned but what happened next dimmed that detail. I told him that I was so proud of him. And I said I bet the people in that camp were so thrilled to see him and the other Americans roll in to save them. And in that moment, I saw the tears surprise him as they sprung into his eyes before he could fully turn and walk away so no-one would notice. I always knew he had been profoundly affected by the war, but that was the moment that I saw that the war he served in had forever torn a hole so deep into his heart that he would never, even as an old man, be able to articulate it. That was the only time in my life that I saw my Grandpa cry. It changed me forever.

It changed how I looked at our servicemen and women. I have always respected them. I have always had a deep sense of patriotism. But that was the moment that my heart knew there are no words strong enough to adequately honor the bravery of spirit that was required for these two young, Godly men to leave their loves, families, and friends in order to face imminent threat and possible death. I cannot imagine the horrors that their eyes saw, nor the terror that their hearts and minds lived through.

All I can do is say “thank you”, “I love you”, and honor their sacrifices and their memory by leading a life worth fighting for. I hope I am successful in that mission.

I hope that all those you love who have or do serve their country can sleep each night and know, with unshakeable certainty that they are loved, respected, and honored. Not just by the people they know and love. But also by those, like me, who do not know them by name but recognize them by character. Always remember their bravery and their actions. I honor and pray for all those who have served our country. I bless them and I bless you!

Hands of an Angel

I believe that when life is most fragile, angels come to assist us. This is the story of one angel that I encountered.

When my daughter was just a week old I took her to her first pediatrician visit. The doctor was concerned because her umbilical cord had fallen off prematurely, likely from the friction of the diaper, and it was not healing properly. She was concerned about the possibility of meningitis. With an even, calm, but urgent tone she instructed me to go directly to the hospital and have her tested. In my heart I could feel the dread mounting and I did exactly what she said. After an excruciatingly long time in the ER, she was finally examined by the doctor.

Again, with that calm, even tone that only a doctor seems to be able to muster up, I was told there was reason for concern. They wanted to do a spinal tap on my tiny, precious little bundle. I braced myself through my tears. But the doctor told me they would not let me be in the room during the procedure because they don’t want the baby to associate the pain of the procedure with a parent. Oh yeah, like that was going to make me feel better. My heart ached to be the one to comfort her, but I had to follow the procedures of the hospital. I could stand at the door and watch through the window but I could not be there.

Then the doctor made a call. She wanted the assistance of a particular technician. When he arrived, I suddenly understood. The technician’s name escapes me, but his hands I will always remember. They were the hands of an angel. The technician was a tall, strong, black man who appeared to have the spirit of a “gentle giant.” He wrapped his one hand around Maria’s head and the other around her bottom and slowly, gently curled her into a comforting fetal position. His steady, firm touch visibly soothed my daughter and he held her still as night during the procedure. To my surprise, she did not utter a cry. She simply lay, safely curled in the hands of this man with a special touch.

In that moment, I knew he was a living angel come to help my daughter, and me, make it through that painful, delicate moment. And in an instant he was gone. I didn’t get a chance to say thank you, but I always send a grateful prayer up on his behalf when I think of that moment. When I saw this picture … I remembered the hands of that angel.

Remember your angels and be blessed!

Love and Love Again

I am constantly reminded of the resilience of the human heart. People often remark about the ability of young children to recover and bounce back so quickly. But I am also aware of how well adult hearts do the same thing. We may not notice it as readily because we analyze and feel hurts so deeply. Not that children don’t but adults understand the big picture and the impact, consequence, and permanence of deaths, break-ups, and losses at a level children do not.

I also see the progress forward in deep and meaningful ways in the hearts of adults. I am in awe at the ability of our spirit to learn from what has caused us pain and to adjust accordingly. And even in the midst of pain we can keep moving. I have seen many a heart broken only to watch that same person allow themselves to love again within a relatively short time. I have watched while tragedy strikes and loved ones pass to the next life. And despite the pain and mourning, the survivors move day-by-day into healing. They will never be able to forget those loved ones and no-one thinks they should. However, they are able to let other joys come back into their lives, a little at a time.

I know that pain is a portion of this earthly life. And life does, without fail, keep moving. The heartaches mold our sensitivity and compassion. The losses teach us our vulnerability and our boundaries. But through it all and in spite of it all, we rebound and learn to love, play, and live again, resiliently.

It is an amazing creation, this human heart. Love and love again, and be blessed!

Remembering Landon’s Daddy

Today I saw this picture and brief note on Facebook. I have to say it stopped me in my tracks and I feel compelled to speak about it:

 “Meet Landon. His father, Marine LCPL Carpenter, gave his life defending our country in Afghanistan

earlier this year, a month before his son was born.  Baby Landon’s Mom wants his story to be known.

Take a moment to share this photo with your friends and reflect on the price of freedom.

 Never forget the price of freedom.”

I don’t know Landon or his parents but I know the sadness that this image creates. As an American I am saddened by the memory of what started us down a path of war. The senseless killing of so many, many innocent people on that solemn day in 2001 has changed the world and a generation.

I am also deeply saddened by the loss of life that has commenced throughout the wars – both Iraq and Afghanistan. And frankly in a myriad of other places in the world where it might not be our men and women but people we don’t know. Families have suddenly lost fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, lovers and friends. I don’t condone the war – it makes my heart hurt to think about it. But I do support the troops. And their families. They fight so I don’t have to and I am eternally, and without words to explain, grateful.

I pray that this little child has the blessing of a strong man in his life to show him the way to manhood. I pray that his mother can find peace and solace in the arms of family. I pray that we never, ever forget the sacrifice his father made.

And I pray for us, as a society, to find a way to live without the need or desire to kill for the love of politics, religion, land, money, greed or power.

We cannot bring Landon’s daddy home but we can change this world through love, acceptance, and peace.

… If only we would.

Remember Who You Are

Do you ever sometimes forget who you are? Not your name. Not your family. But your faith – do you forget that you are chosen because God created you and He loves you? Sometimes I think it is so easy to forget just who we are.

I think about this as I approach problems and questions. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in seeing the problem that I forget the next step – looking for the solutions. If we always stay stuck in that space of identifying, naming, categorizing, analyzing, giving name to our problems it becomes bigger and stronger in our mind. Take for instance finances. I used to think so much about what the next bill is, when it’s due, how much or little I have in the bank to cover it, etc. I never actually moved passed the stage of being in awe of the size of the problem. I never actually remembered that who I am is a child of God. I have the protection of the Creator of the Universe behind me. I have the creative power that He rendered to me at birth, in His likeness. I just need to look for opportunities to use it!

Sometimes the solution is in renaming and reclaiming my power. Be it over destructive habits (in this example, spending or not saving). I sometimes forget that this life is about creating and about possibilities. The possibility to see things from a different angle. The possibility to count my blessings instead of my sorrows. Yes, it’s a lofty ideal if it’s just that – an ideal. But when I put it into practice – when I really and truly look for and count my blessings, big and small, it overwhelms me how truly loved I am. All problems seem to regain their proper perspective and new ideas and new solutions come into my consciousness. Not because the problem went away but because I remembered who I am and who my source is. There is nothing that can overcome me if I have my eyes, my heart, and my gratitude on the Lord.

So, friends – remember who you are and look for the grand possibilities that exist in this world to overcome.

Be blessed!