(If this is only semi-incoherent, it’s because my thoughts are sort of jumbled and I have so much to say, but not the talent to say it. I wish I could pay adequate tribute to my hero, but hopefully the message comes through clear.)
Heroes don’t wear capes. They don’t hide behind pieces of metal. They don’t wield magical hammers. They don’t have all the answers. They’re not fearless. They’re often not sexy-beasts-of-muscle. They don’t fight villains.
They fight people making the wrong choices – choices that can affect the world in a negative way.
They are normal human beings until they decide they want more. They’re normal until they realize that the future is in every individual’s hands. They’re just like us. But they choose selflessness. They choose possible death because life is nothing without the freedoms they fight for.
October 7, 1917 – October 14, 2014.
My great-grandfather died the other night. I’d only met him a few times since he lived up north and I down in the south, but have been quite fond of him. I remember the telephone calls, the couple of weeks we spent up in New Hampshire cabins with him several years ago, lunch at
Young’s, his cat (Pudder), and the way he would end his calls with, “God bless each and all of you.”
Lt. Col. Charles E. McLean was a World War II and Korean veteran. But I knew him as Grampy Mac, the great-grandfather who fought for my country. Who fought for me before I was born. Who would say, “Semper Fidelis” which means “always faithful” in Latin. He would tell the hour by military time. He asked me on the phone once, “What time would it be at thirteen hundred hours?”
I think we all owe that man so much more than we could ever give. He was an active member of society up until his death. He was proud of his service to our country and when he spoke, he commanded the room. Mac Mclean was very opinionated (and he had a right to those opinions, mind you – he risked his life for ours), stood by his values, and contributed to a society that has nearly forgotten that WWII even happened.
At 97, he still hadn’t lost his sense of humor. At lunch last year, he would say, “I should be dead. But, hey, the Good Lord’s kept me here for some reason.” Or something along those lines. 😉
One of the things I admire about him is his absolute selflessness. Even though he suffered from Alzheimer’s (which was the cause of his death), he continuously gave himself to the community. He’d allow college students to board with him, met with members of society on Tuesdays for lunch (and would invite people he’d just met to attend with him), and didn’t mind sharing his history, knowledge, faith, or opinions.
Now, I’d like to share a story with you. It’s one of my favorites. And this actually happened!
In Mac’s words, “From the nearby village appeared an elder carrying a basket of apples. His tall stove like top hat defined his status. I bowed gratefully, accepted the fruit, and he returned to the village.
A young man then appeared saying, “Me Jap, Me Jap,” I started to walk downstream with him walking next to me about 20 yards away. We had covered about a quarter of a mile when a hail of bullets, with the Doppler effect of tumbling ammo surrounding us, came our way. I concluded they were not leaning on their weapons. Thank goodness their aim was very poor.” It was a North Korean Rifle Company of about 150 men.
As I began walking directly to them, the firing ceased, I picked out the commanding officer, walked up to him, came to attention saluted and shook his hand. I then reached into my uniform and withdrew ten packs of cigarettes, ten Hershey bars and began distributing them to the Commanding officer and the soldiers. Amid big smiles and a relaxed situation, I then again, saluted, shook hands, and continued on my way expecting at any moment to be fired upon, shot in the back and be killed. They didn’t shoot nor did they follow. I continued to walk and eventually met up with and joined some South Korean troops and safety.”
My great-grandpa was pretty darn cool. ^_^ And to make him even more admirable, he won’t have a funeral. He’ll be having a celebration of life ceremony (?) instead. Doesn’t get more selfless than that.
Please, if you’d like to know more about him, click here and here. Our soldiers deserve so much more than we give them. I pray for their safety and peace of mind. May God bless them and their families.
R.I.P., Grampy Mac. ❤ Thank you for setting such a positive example in a world that disrespects most the ones who deserve the most respect. Thank you for your decision to protect the greatest country in the world. Thank you for fighting the enemies of justice, morality, and basic goodness.