Waiting in the car for what felt like forever, Mary texted me that she was in the Walmart check-out line but it would be awhile before she checked out with our groceries. I decided to go back into the store.
In the restaurant area, I spotted an elderly white gentleman wearing a World War II veteran cap. I approached and thanked him for his service to our country. He said thank you very much. I shared that my dad who recently passed away at age 90 was one of the first blacks to serve in the Merchant Marines.
I did not say it out loud, but my mind raced back to when Dad’s ship landed in St Petersburg, Florida. After looking forward to a much needed shore leave, Dad and the other black sailor were told they could not leave the ship because St Petersburg had a curfew for blacks. Dad said he cried and the other black sailor would not stop cussing. When Dad was finally allowed off the ship, a mob of whites chased and tried to hang Dad simply because he was black. White shipmates saved Dad’s life.
While anti-American enemies-within love to focus on America’s past sins, America is the greatest land of opportunity on the planet because our Christian roots influence us to strive to do right by all.
With a huge smile, the gentleman said, “I got to meet Bob Hope and Shirley Temple.” The United Service Organization (USO) was founded in 1941. Its mission was to provide humanity, caring, commitment and support for our troops. Bob Hope’s USO shows were called The One-Man Morale Machine. Hope provided an extremely important link to home for the military.
I remember seeing video of Bob Hope bringing beautiful stars like Raquel Welch and Ann Margaret on stage. He would say something like, take a good look guys. This is what you are fighting for. The audiences of troops loved it, erupting in cheers and applause.
We chatted about the great work Bob Hope did and how much he impacted the morale of our military. Suddenly, with great excitement, as if it happened just yesterday, the old soldier said, “I even got to dance with Shirley Temple.” We both laughed enjoying his fond remembrance. The good that Bob Hope and Shirley Temple did lives far beyond their years.
Thinking I had better look for Mary, I shook the WWII vet’s hand and thanked him again for his service. He replied, Thank you very much.
Image: Excerpted from: US Army – US Army, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6250560